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Sea change

Joan Marshall’s long-standing fascination with Grand Manan Island, N.B., was bolstered with a Royal Canadian Geographical Society research grant she received in 1997. She spent the next 12 years studying the 225-year-old fishing community in the Bay of Fundy, culminating in the publication of her book Tides of Change on Grand Manan Island, last winter.

In the book, Marshall examines the rapid pace of change on the island over the past 10 to 15 years, from the deterioration of the traditional herring fishery to the growth and subsequent decline of aqua culture and rising globalization. “All of the centralization policies of the government affected perceptions of islanders as to how much control they had over their lives,” says Marshall, a faculty lecturer at the McGill School of Environment, in Montréal, and a member of the Society’s Research Grants Committee.

Marshall estimates that the next five years will be difficult for Grand Mananers, as they deal with the shifting nature of their work, ongoing social problems and the loss of young people who are increasingly moving to the mainland. But the future isn’t all grim.

“Islanders have a strong independence streak, which is good but can be detrimental to wanting to make changes,” says Marshall. “They’re also very creative and innovative, and they’re really great problem solvers. I think there’s certainly hope in the long term.”

— Monique Roy-Sole

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