SȾÁUTW̱ (Tsawout) First Nation – An Historical Moment
In 2018, the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) using its new designation as FTZVI, Canada’s 12th Foreign Trade Zone, developed four business cases to attract Foreign Direct Investment. The business case for Seaweed Aquaculture rose to the top of this list and was quickly pursued by a team of experts and investors to form Cascadia Seaweed Corporation, partnering with Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood LP, to bring Vancouver Island seaweed to rapidly expanding global markets.
On June 16, 2021, the elected leadership of the Tsawout First Nation exercised their right to self-govern and enacted a Marine Use Law. As defined and clarified under the Douglas Treaty, the Constitution, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Tsawout First Nation has jurisdiction and authority over Tsawout lands, waters, resources and interests through unextinguished Aboriginal title. In October, under provisions of this new Law, Tsawout issued a license to Cascadia Seaweed to engage in commercial seaweed farming activities within their territorial waters and on Tsawout’s behalf. In November, Cascadia Seaweed installed and seeded one of its largest farms to date, with over 20 km of production line in the water.
The typical process to secure a license from the Province of BC to install a seaweed farm can take anywhere between 8 months to 3 years. Tsawout First Nation recognized the economic and environmental benefit of farming seaweed in their territory and were able to grant a license in under 5 months to what is now the largest provider of ocean cultivated seaweed in North America — Cascadia Seaweed.
Cascadia Seaweed was chosen because they offered the ‘greenest of the green projects’ said Chrissy Chen, Fisheries Manager for Tsawout. “We are Indigenous people. We are here to conserve and protect the environment while we produce food and create opportunity for our people. Cascadia Seaweed is supporting all of these objectives.” Chairman of Cascadia Seaweed, Bill Collins, adds that this is “True reconciliation in action.”
On February 25th, Tsawout First Nation will hold a ceremony recognizing the Nation’s sovereign rights.
For more information about the seaweed industry, visit seaweedindustry.ca.
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