First Nation-Mowi seafood product featuring smoked Atlantic salmon, which is hitting Walmart shelves this Christmas, hailed as an indigenous partnership success story.

First Nation’s raised and smoked salmon hits Walmart shelves

First Nation-Mowi seafood product featuring smoked Atlantic salmon, which is hitting Walmart shelves this Christmas, hailed as an indigenous partnership success story.

By Fabian Dawson

Raised in the pristine waters of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, a First Nations made seafood product featuring smoked Atlantic salmon will be hitting Walmart shelves just in time for those looking for something extra special this Christmas.

The Klemtu Spirit Hot Smoked Atlantic Salmon, is produced by the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, a community in BC’s remote central coast about 500 kilometres north of Vancouver and  Mowi, the world’s largest Atlantic fish farmer.

This new seafood product, brined and smoked in a traditional west coast way at a processing plant, where 90% of employees come from First Nations communities, is now exclusively available at over 330 Walmart stores.

“Klemtu Spirit is a one-of-a-kind product and by supporting this brand, you are assisting the people of Klemtu, a remote Indigenous community in the heart of Great Bear Rainforest where this product supports over half of our nation’s economy,” said Isaiah Robinson, General Manager of the Kitasoo Development Corporation.

“Walmart customers are getting high quality Atlantic salmon, farmed and looked after by local community members that really care about these fish. Our values ensure that the products we produce in our territory are done so in a way that minimizes the impact on the natural world and other species and does not harm the environment,” he said.

“The Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation prides itself in stewarding their territory and guarding their values to ensure all products are produced in a way that protects nature as part of their heritage.”

Walmart Canada said this partnership with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais is only the beginning of the retailer’s commitment to the First Nation and that it is exploring ways to use its size, scale and expertise to create further ties and partnerships in the community.

“We’re incredibly proud and appreciative to be able to support Indigenous people by exclusively carrying this new smoked salmon product for the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation,” said Robert Pereira, Senior Director of Merchandising for Meat and Seafood, Walmart Canada.

“Walmart Canada understands the importance of supporting Indigenous communities and jobs, which is why we’re proud to partner with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation and Mowi Canada West on this new product launch. We’re focused on delivering 100% Canadian, locally sourced products for our customers and we’re honoured to add Klemtu Spirit to our made-in-Canada lineup.”

Over the last 12 months, Walmart Canada said it has purchased more than $670 million worth of products from 142 suppliers based in B.C.

The Kitasoo/Xai’Xais began farming and processing salmon since the late 1980’s, forming a partnership for the business with Mowi in 1998 – the first agreement developed by a salmon farming company and a First Nation in British Columbia.

Today, 20 BC First Nations have partnership agreements for farming salmon in their territories resulting in 78% of all salmon farmed in the province falling under a beneficial partnership with a First Nation.

Last year Mowi Canada West entered into a new 10-year agreement with the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais First Nation for economic development and employment centred around salmon farming and processing in Klemtu.

“Mowi Canada West is privileged to operate in the breathtaking, coastal village of Klemtu and it is with great respect that we maintain a strong relationship with the Kitasoo Xai’xais people who continue to allow us to farm sustainably in their territories,” said Diane Morrison, Managing Director, Mowi Canada West.

Stewart Muir is the executive director of Resource Works, a natural resource industry think-tank, which is organising the Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase to be held in Vancouver next May.

“This announcement reflects a trend that we’ve been seeing across Canada in recent years, where business partnerships result in outcomes like this,” he said

All kinds of obstacles must be overcome to get to this stage. That is what we will be talking about in May 2022 at the third annual Indigenous Partnerships success showcase,” he said.

The event to be held at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver will highlight numerous examples of business stories that puts Reconciliation with First Nations into practice, said Muir.

“For Indigenous people, it is important to ensure that their future generations inherit healthy lands and waters to steward for the next millennia,” said Robinson of the Kitasoo Development Corporation.