Career Profiles

Doug Chiasson

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Doug Chiasson - Canada’s fur trade

The fur trade has been an important business in Canada for a very long time. By supporting today’s trappers, ranchers, processors, artisans, retailers, and others working with wild and farmed fur, The Fur Institute of Canada is helping ensure its long-standing cultural and economic value continues in the modern era. “The story of fur is the story of Canada in a lot of ways. It goes back to the beginning, and before the beginning, long before European contact,” says Doug Chiasson, the Institute’s executive director. For Chiasson, one of the most important things the Fur Institute of Canada does is work to protect market access for Canadian fur products. “The fur trade has evolved significantly over the centuries, particularly with the emergence of ranch fur, fox and mink. But it really is an unbroken trail between early fur traders through today. It’s all a part of one integrated and globalized industry. We’re amplifying the voice of Indigenous partners and the communities who are involved in fur for economic as well as cultural reasons.” In addition to its long history, Chiasson says the passion of those working with fur is one of the reasons he enjoys working in the sector. “Fur is often an intergenerational activity. If you’re talking to a trapper, they’ll often point out that their parents and grandparents or even further operated the same trap line. The same goes for furriers – that fur shop may have been there for 130 or 140 years,” he says. “It really is an industry where people recognize that history and heritage. They believe in this industry. The people are involved because they are deeply passionate, and for reasons which go beyond economics to heritage, culture and community.”