Celebrating women of the West Coast

Culture Heritage Fest. takes a deeper look at women with gumption, and gumboots

Photo submitted by Laura Rasmussen                                Cpt. Laura Rasmussen ran her own shrimp boat for the last 28 years. She is profiled in the novel Beckoned By The Sea by Sylvia Taylor.

Photo submitted by Laura Rasmussen Cpt. Laura Rasmussen ran her own shrimp boat for the last 28 years. She is profiled in the novel Beckoned By The Sea by Sylvia Taylor.

This year’s Culture Heritage Festival (Sept. 22-30) is an ode to women of the West Coast.

The festival kicks off with Frank Harper’s “Cougar Annie” at the Clayoquot Community Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22 followed by an opening gala and book launch at the Ucluelet Aquarium on Saturday night.

Author Sylvia Taylor will be at the opening gala to present her book Beckoned By The Sea: Women at Work on the Cascadia Coast.

Guests at the opening gala will also get the chance meet some of the women featured in Beckoned By The Sea, like Cpt. Laura Rasmussen, who is unofficially the female captain commercial prawn fisher to log the most time at sea since she started 28 years ago.

“It’s nice to have a positive word said. It’s great to find other women who are in these industries who do these things,” said Cpt. Rasmussen.

“That was one thing that I always felt was the isolating; not having a lot of support. That was one of the toughest things about it, for me.”

Now on the cusp of retirement, Cpt. Rasmussen said buying her first boat, a herring punt, was the best thing she ever did for herself.

“I just really appreciate having the gumption wanting to go out and do that. There was never any doubt in my mind,” she said.

“It’s awesome to be able to teach people. You’re out there, you’re fiercely independent, and you’re able to earn a living out on the water.”

Her father, Ronald Rasmussen a.k.a. Buddy, taught her how to fish.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. My dad passed away a year and a half ago, so last year when I was out on the water and I know he was gone my heart wasn’t into it quite the same,” Cpt. Rasmussen, 57, told the Westerly.

“It was really cool to be able to look him in the eye and be able to say, Thank You Dad for being a fisherman because I get it.”

As part of the Culture Heritage Festival, there will also be a “Women of the Nuu-chah-nulth” exhibit on display at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre. The opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 24 from 1-3 p.m.

Festival organizer Sue Payne said the exhibit features amazing women who all share a sense of adventure.

“Specifically, it’s some of the women locally that have done incredible things because of their connection to the sea,” said Payne.

Advance tickets to the opening gala and Cougar Annie play are available at Blackberry Cove or at the Pacific Rim Arts Centre office in Ucluelet.

Tickets for the play are also available at Mermaid Tales Bookshop in Tofino.

To see a full schedule of events, visit: http://pacificrimarts.ca/events.

Tofino,ucluelet