First Nations and Indigenous Peoples

Working in close and respectful relationships with local Indigenous communities is a priority for us. We acknowledge the rights and title of Indigenous peoples and work to ensure that when operating in traditional territories, we respect the environment, local culture and traditional practices of the indigenous peoples.

Building our relationship with First Nations communities

Working in close and respectful relationships with local indigenous communities is a priority for us. We acknowledge the rights and title of First Nations peoples and work to ensure that when operating in traditional territories, we respect the environment, local culture and traditional practices of the indigenous peoples. We engage with indigenous communities in good faith as guided by the United Nations Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and we support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

In the areas in which we operate, we are actively working to build and strengthen relationships with First Nations and participate in regular meetings, support community activities, foster economic growth and share information about our operations in a timely and transparent manner. We respect the significance of salmon to many west coast First Nations communities, for food fisheries and ceremonial purposes, and are working to better understand how we can support local salmon restoration and enhancement efforts.

Cermaq will continue to look for opportunities to create value, build capacity and enable economic growth with indigenous communities. We will also stay true to the values of integrity, long-term perspective and sharing successes and concerns in the regions in which we farm, live and work.

As a company, we have 10 Principles on First Nations Relations which we follow.

1. Acceptance of UNDRIP overarching principles.
Cermaq works in the spirit of partnership, mutual respect and shows good faith while working with First Nations. We respect indigenous peoples as rights-holders.

2. Implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) Call to Action #92, on the role of business in promoting reconciliation.

Cermaq actively recruits indigenous people for jobs in aquaculture, and once hired we provide training and education opportunities. We also educate our management and staff on the history of indigenous peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, and UNDRIP, and help staff to develop the competencies to engage effectively with indigenous peoples.

3. Commitment to ongoing and meaningful engagement.

Cermaq engages with indigenous communities in the areas where we farm, and with their chosen representatives. This engagement is ongoing and goes beyond salmon farming, as we learn about their cultures, languages, priorities and aspirations, as we seek shared value.

4. Recognition of traditional territories and the requirement for consent.
Our operations take place in the traditional territories of several First Nations, and we acknowledge that they have rights over these lands, including the coastal waters. Therefore, going forward, Cermaq will strive to have the free, prior and informed consent of these nations to carry out our operations. We aim to have clear, written agreements whenever possible, documenting this consent and the benefits and arrangements made in each case.

5. Sharing a common commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
We understand and support First Nations’ desire to conserve healthy ecosystems for the next seven generations of their descendants. To achieve this goal, we seek all opportunities for collaboration for environmental protection, including the involvement of indigenous guardian and stewardship programs, where these exist. For this purpose, we also obtain third party certifications, beyond what is strictly required and to the highest standards.

6. Acknowledging the paramount importance of salmon in the daily lives and worldviews of First Nations.

We understand that First Nations highly value salmon as an icon of their traditional societies, as their primary food fish, and as central to the balance of all living things. We use our salmon expertise to assist in restoration and enhancement of wild salmon stocks, and to ensure a complementary (harmonious) and well managed co-existence between farmed salmon and wild salmon in the vast ocean.

7. Respecting the internal affairs of First Nations.

Cermaq will not get involved in internal band conflicts or governance issues.

8. Respecting the diversity of interests and cultures among First Nations. Of the 605 Indigenous Nations in Canada, 197 of these, or 33 per cent (33%) are located in British Columbia.
Indigenous people make up about four per cent (4%) of the Canadian population. There is a wide diversity of interests and cultures among these nations. Each nation is unique, while also sharing a fundamental common vision and close ties with other nations, so we engage with each First Nation on their own terms.

9. Contribution to developing capacity of First Nations people, particularly youth.

We take every opportunity to provide and facilitate technical and skills training for First Nations in the communities where we farm. We support youth through community sponsorships, sports teams, educational events, scholarships and other activities.

10. Supporting First Nations in securing economic and social development.

In our formal and informal partnerships with First Nations, we provide a range of long term economic and social benefits as mutually agreed. We also support First Nations, when possible, to mobilize resources for strategic projects and initiatives considered priorities for their communities.

Scenic from plane of archipelago
Clayoquot Sound, off the west coast of Vancouver Island and home to over 70 per cent (70%) of Cermaq Canada's farming operations.