We’koqma’q First Nation grows aquaculture success

News release

Expanding fish farm infrastructure enables Aboriginal community to hire more residents, build economy

June 1, 2018 – Whycocomagh, NS – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

The federal government is investing in Indigenous Peoples and supporting the skills and resources they need to fully participate in the economy and strengthen their communities. That is why the Government of Canada is assisting with the expansion of the We’koqma’q First Nation’s aquaculture operation, creating jobs and wealth in a growing industry the Band has identified as a strategic priority.

Rodger Cuzner, Parliamentary Secretary for Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and Member of Parliament for Cape Breton – Canso, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), today announced the $1,000,000 contribution.

The funding is being allocated through ACOA’s Business Development Program, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises and not-for-profit organizations that provide support to Atlantic businesses.

We’koqma’q First Nation will purchase cages, nets, moorings and a work barge, will upgrade docks, perform electrical work and add a fish counter. The expansion enables more than one million fingerlings annually to be grown for market. The aquaculture operation, which currently employs 45 community members, will add 10 new jobs.

With a recently acquired fish hatchery and an upgraded grow out site and processing plant, the community is in a better position to control and manage its growth in the sector and build economic prosperity for future generations.

We’koqma’q First Nation is also investing $750,000 in the project from its operating revenue.

This investment builds on commitments made by the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic Provinces to drive economic growth in the region through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which involves targeted actions to create opportunities for all Atlantic Canadians, including Indigenous people, support long-term growth and position the region to capitalize on emerging opportunities.


“Through Budget 2018, the Government of Canada is working to help close the gap between the living conditions of Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, facilitate self-determination, and advance recognition of rights. Our investment in this community-based aquaculture initiative will help the We’koqma’q First Nation grow its reputation for providing high-quality, sustainably harvested fish and assist with its economic development objectives.”

- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA

“The We’koqma’q First Nation’s trout farm is a true success story, generating more than $2 million in revenues and providing employment for 45 community members over the past year. Expanding operations will enable the Band to maximize jobs and profits while moving towards a fully integrated business model and building a foundation for sustainable prosperity.”

- Rodger Cuzner, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton – Canso

“The We’koqma’q First Nation trout farm is expanding, creating more employment and opportunities for our people. In the last few years, we have doubled production annually. Revenue generated is being re-invested in the community, leading to increased economic development. The relationships we have built with multiple levels of government, and our collaborative efforts, have helped our aquaculture operation to grow and prosper.”

- Chief Rod Googoo, We’koqma’q First Nation

Quick facts

  • We’koqma’q First Nation harvested 70,000 steelhead trout in 2016, 170,000 in 2017 and expects to harvest more than 400,000 in 2018.

  • Northern Harvest Sea Farm Limited, of New Brunswick and Newfoundland, has an agreement with We’koqma’q First Nation to purchase and market all of the fish harvested at the farm.

  • Last year, there were 27 cages for market fish at the farm. This year there will be 64 and next year there will be 92.


Alex Smith 
Director of Communications and Outreach 
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency 
Phone: 902-426-9417 / 902-830-3839 (cell) 
E-mail: alex.smith@canada.ca

Chief Rod Googoo 
We’koqma’q First Nation 
Phone: (902) 295-0351 
E-mail: rodgoogoo@wekoqmaqproud.ca

Emma Lewis 
We’koqma’q First Nation 
Phone: (902) 756-2337 
E-mail: emmalewis@waycobah.ca

Phil Drinnan
Director of Aquaculture
We’koqma’q First Nation 
Phone: (902) 756-2337 
E-mail: phild@waycobah.ca

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