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Mi’kmaq First Nations Coalition Takes Control Of Major Seafood Company

Above photo: Mi’kmaq solidarity group rallies in front of Clearwater Market. From

“The single largest investment in the seafood industry by any Indigenous group in Canada.”

NOTE: Recall the violence recently towards Mi’kmaq fishers that led to a boycott of commercial lobster. It looks like the Mi’kmaq decided to assert control by buying half of the seafood company. It will be interesting to see how this goes and if the racism towards First Nations people abates. – MF

In a joint statement released by Mi’kmaq Coalition and Premium Brands, the purchase of Clearwater Seafood is being called the single largest investment by Indigenous group. The

Halifax-based Clearwater Seafoods was purchased by Premium Brands of British Columiba and a coaltion of Mi’kaw First Nations. The billion-dollar deal was announced on Monday, November 9, 2020.

The Mi’kmaq Coalition is a new legal entity formed for the purpose of this investment in Clearwater. The Mi’kmaq Coalition is owned collectively by participating Mi’kmaq First Nations in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The participating First Nations include: Membertou, Sipekne’katik, Miawpukek, Waycobah, Potlotek, Pictou Landing and Paqtnkek. Given the importance of this investment opportunity to the future prosperity of Mi’kmaq communities, all adjacent First Nations in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador were provided the opportunity to participate in the collective investment.

In part, the joint statement read, “While the participating First Nations will continue to advance implementation of Treaty Rights with the government of Canada, commercial investments in the seafood sector are a strategic investment to advance the prosperity of our communities and position us as equal participants in the commercial economy. The impact of this transformational investment will be felt across Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for generations to come.”

Membertou Chief Terry Paul said the Mi’kmaq will hold Clearwater’s Canadian fishing licenses within a fully Mi’kmaq-owned partnership.

Paul stated, “This is a transformational opportunity for the Mi’kmaq to become significant participants in the commercial fishery through the investment in existing infrastructure, management expertise, and a global market presence. Mi’kmaq not only become 50% owners of the company but expects to hold Clearwater’s Canadian fishing licenses within a fully Mi’kmaq owned partnership.”

This transaction delivers significant and immediate value to Clearwater’s shareholders and reflects Clearwater’s unique assets and global leadership in premium, wild caught and sustainable seafood. Clearwater is one of North America’s largest vertically-integrated seafood companies and the largest holder of shellfish licenses and quotas in Canada. It is recognized globally for its superior quality, food safety, diversity of species and reliable worldwide delivery of premium wild, eco-certified seafood, including scallops, lobster, clams, coldwater shrimp, langoustine, whelk and crab.

According to their statement, this transaction has received the unanimous approval of Clearwater’s Board of Directors and is subject to approval by Clearwater shareholders

The Mi’kmaq First Nations Coalition and Premium Brands each acquire 50% ownership in Atlantic Canada’s largest fishing company, ‘This strategic investment represents a transformational change in Canadian fisheries, catapulting First Nations into a leading global position in the seafood industry with the largest holdings of shellfish licenses and quotas in Canadian fisheries.’

Colin MacDonald, Chair of Board of Clearwater Seafoods, stated, “I am very pleased to recommend this transaction. It represents great value for shareholders, leverages the expertise within the company while advancing Reconciliation in Canada,” “I am confident that this transaction will enhance the culture of diversity and sustainable seafood excellence that exists at Clearwater”.

Premium Brands owns thirty-eight specialty food manufacturing companies and twenty-two differentiated food distribution businesses with operations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and in Arizona, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, and Washington.

President and CEO of Premium Brands George Paleologou said, “Clearwater has a world class management team and assets that Premium brands will leverage to continue to grow the value of this leading global seafood company. We are proud to partner with First Nations in this unique opportunity to enhance First Nations participation in commercial fisheries at the same time building the seafood portfolio within the Premium Brand ecosystem.”

“You have to play to win and we won.”, said Membertou Chief Terry Paul.

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