Grieg Seafood BC’s commitment to reconciliation

Reconciliation is defined as a long-term commitment rooted in Canada’s pledge to build a renewed relationship with its Indigenous peoples that are based on the recognition of rights and showing respect through co-operation and partnership.

At Grieg Seafood BC, we strive to follow the same commitment and path to reconciliation every day with Indigenous peoples. Open communication, being transparent in our operations, sharing opportunities, and improving our company’s internal understanding of First Nations’ cultures and governances are keys to moving forward.

“We have learned to really reach out to our First Nations partners and ask them directly to give us more feedback on how we’re doing,” says Rocky Boschman, Managing Director. “We ask them, ‘How are we doing? Are there ways we need to change?’

Rudy Dick is an Aquaculture Technician 2 at Grieg’s Muchalat North farm in Nootka Sound. He is a member of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations.

Sharing opportunities and success

Grieg has several programs and projects in development to better include our First Nations partners in business opportunities, such as providing contractor services, like water taxi transportation, food catering at community events hosted by Grieg, and net cleaning at the fish farms.

The recent addition of an Indigenous Business Development Manager will identify even more business opportunities as the company grows, supporting First Nations enterprises near to their own coastal communities.

Boschman points out that this approach reflects Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s call to action for businesses:

  • Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
  • Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
  • Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
In February 2020, Grieg BC hosted representatives from their three partner Nations in Norway to tour a hatchery, farm and processing facilities. The Tlowitsis First Nation, Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations and the Ehattesaht Chinehkint shared their histories and cultures with the Grieg Seafood ASA executive management team in Bergen and learned about Grieg Seafood ASA’s best practices in salmon farming.

Improvement starts from within

For Grieg, it’s just as important to work through reconciliation internally as it is externally. The development of new positions dedicated to deepening our Indigenous relationships will help us be better partners in our communities, as well as a more culturally aware employer to our Indigenous staff, including understanding Indigenous peoples’ connections to the air, land and water.

“The health of the wild fish and the health of our fish go very much hand in hand,” says Rachel Commandant, Environmental Treatment Coordinator for Grieg BC and member of the Wáhta Mohawks, a Mohawk Nation in Ontario. “I think it’s because of my Indigenous roots that I feel such a strong connection with the environment and if I thought we were harming it I wouldn’t be happy here [at Grieg]. I need to feel that my employment and my company ethically align with my own personal views.”

Rachel Commandant, Environmental Treatment Coordinator and member of the Wáhta Mohawks of the Mohawk Nation, believe Grieg Seafood and our First Nations partners can learn from each other.

Grieg is continuously working to develop and improve our relationships – and our trust— with the First Nations in all of our areas. It’s very important that we can give them knowledge, but that they also can give us knowledge, so we are both learning together

Rachel Commandant, Environmental Treatment Coordinator, Grieg Seafood BC and Member of the Wáhta Mohawks of the Mohawk Nation

Reflecting on what kind of company Grieg wants to be, and acting according to our values, are some of our goals when it comes to being better partners.

We recognize the privilege to operate salmon farms in First Nations’ territories. Respecting traditional Indigenous knowledge of the environment around those farms means us also respecting how they view our farming operations. This will hopefully strengthen our relationships with Indigenous peoples on our coast.

The Grieg Seafood BC team and representatives from our First Nations partners exploring Stavanger during their trip to Norway in early March 2020.