Plight of injured fisherman prompts call for organized mutual aid

Andrew Saulnier, fisherman who survived brutal on-the-job injuries

JUSTIN DEVEAU WANTS MORE THAN SYMPATHY. He wants solidarity and collective mutual aid. He wants the whole Atlantic Canada fishing industry to come together to help one injured fisherman and then go farther to have all fisheries workers help themselves.

Andrew Saulnier was almost killed on the job on April 10. He’s a 24-year-old fisherman, who fishes out of Lower Argyle, near Yarmouth in southwest Nova Scotia.

Andrew was working on the engine of the boat he sails in when it slipped into gear. He was pulled into the machinery, his legs and right arm were badly mangled.

He was airlifted to Halifax where surgeons saved his life, but not his left leg. He faces many more operations and long months of recovery.

Neighours rally ‘round

In the days since, all the fishing communities in Yarmouth county have rallied to support one of their own—as they always do. There have been boat loads of social media posts full of prayers and best wishes—and a GoFundMe page, that had $35,615 worth of donations by April 16.

“The last thing the family should have to worry about right now is money,” reads the GoFundMe page. “If anyone could help even a little it would be greatly appreciated.”

Industry responsibility

Justin Deveau, who is also a fisherman from the southwest shore, thought there should be something more than random acts of kindness. He has called for a more formalized industry-wide response. He is asking fishing boats, buyers and licence holders to donate $200 from their week’s settlement, or whatever they can donate.

“This is a very minor ask,” he posted on the North Atlantic Commercial Fishermen Facebook group. “We have the power and the means to take care of this young man and his family . . . Anyone can donate whatever they want or can.”

At first he had just issued the challenge to the industry in southwestern N.S. but now he’s hoping the entire Atlantic Canadian industry will come through for the fisherman.

Fishermen like Andrew Saulnier are covered by Workers’ Compensation. But, there is no industry-wide benefits or insurance plan for fishermen.

This is something Deveau would like to see fisherman push the industry to support, or even provide it for themselves with a mutual aid collective effort.

The Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education continues to investigate what occurred on the boat.

How to donate
Send email transfers to support Andrew Saulnier to

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