By Gina Forsyth
Karen Tobin, Primary Lead Hand at the Port Hardy processing plant, traded one coast for the other and built a solid life on Vancouver Island.
While her job responsibilities are primarily monitoring and scheduling as many as 47 colleagues, Karen also does daily data entry of orders into the computer and even pitches in on the processing line on particularly busy days.
Karen was born and educated in the Newfoundland community of Baie Verte. She and her brothers grew up in Fleur de Lys, a town near Baie Verte where Karen’s father worked in the asbestos mine.
It was in Newfoundland that Karen met her husband, Len, who now works at Fox’s Disposal in Port Hardy. “We’ve been together since I was 16,” said Karen. They’ve been married for 13 years and have a daughter at nursing school and an avid 14 year old hockey-playing son at home.
After moving to Port Hardy, Karen heard that the processing plant was hiring. With her experience in a crab processing plant in Newfoundland, Karen was hired immediately. She will celebrate 13 years at the plant in December with the crew she adores. “I love the different personalities and how we all work together”.
An important part of Karen’s life since moving to the West Coast is volunteering in the community. For more than 10 years, Karen has involved herself with company events. “I’m a people person so I enjoy spending time giving back to the community,” she said. Karen often serves barbeque salmon or collects money when the Marine Harvest barbeque trailer raises money for various non-profits around the North Island. “People ask about aquaculture during our barbeques and it’s personally rewarding to be able to be on hand to give them the facts,” she added.
Karen also spent three years as team manager for her son’s hockey team. “I drew up rosters, organized tournaments, and phoned parents. “It was a lot of hours in the evening”. She was also the safety person, which meant attending every practice and game to ensure the player’s equipment met or exceeded the minimum safety requirements.
The family is already anxious for next summer, when they’ll get to enjoy the trailer they bought in May.