Good morning, and thank you, Mr. Chairman and honourable members, for the opportunity to speak to you today.
My name is Darin Brecht. I'm the director of finance and e-commerce for Cabela's Canada. I'm going to talk briefly not just from a retail perspective, but from a personal perspective, as a Canadian citizen.
My father's side is from the municipality of Viscount, Saskatchewan, and my mother is from Alonsa, Manitoba. Hunting has played a pivotal role on both sides of my family, in our history and in our roots. I grew up with stories of life on the prairie in the distant and not-so-distant past, when you consumed what you grew in good times and you supplemented from the land, the forest, and the water around you in less prosperous times. My father and grandfathers all held a high level of respect for wildlife and the land they hunted and trapped on, and they instilled a deep and important lesson in each of us about the role we play in protecting our land and sustaining the wildlife for generations to follow.
John has told you that at Cabela's we look at ourselves as selling fun. I've always looked at us as selling fun and as being a company that sells a connection between our past and our future. We sell that first BB gun or twenty-two rifle that a grandfather is going to buy for a grandchild or the first fishing rod a dad is going to give to his daughter. I want it to be said that we sell a link to a simpler time. If the number of licences sold over the past 10 years is any indication, we live in a time when hunting and fishing are declining among Canadians. As more Canadians move from rural to urban centres, our youth are offered interests and preoccupations other than the outdoors. As baby boomers age, there is less knowledge and love of the outdoors transferred to their children and grandchildren, and we will see a further decline in the number of hunting licences and in the experiences of the outdoors by our youth and our children's children.
We don't see one solution to this decline. Instead, we believe that part of the solution is for corporations such as ours, in partnership with local outdoor associations and governments where possible, to help provide our youth, both inner city and rural, the proper level of outdoor educational programs that will provide experiences and opportunities that they otherwise might not have.
The level of sustainability of our wildlife resources is also of concern, as evidenced by the closing or elimination of hunting seasons for certain species in our provinces. We believe it's important that outdoors people in all provinces work with our government leaders to ensure we provide proper structure, harvest reporting, and limits on harvests, so that there will be abundant wildlife for our children and their children for generations to come. It will require a great deal of courage and leadership at all governmental levels—municipal, provincial, and federal—to ensure that our heritage and culture of hunting, trapping, and fishing in Canada are maintained for now and the foreseeable future.
I'll turn it over to John to conclude.