Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation launches new brand of seal oil capsule

·2 min read
Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

The Qalipu First Nation Band is starting its own new brand of seal oil capsules.

Waspu, which translates to "seal," was launched in Corner Brook Friday.

The capsules, supplied by Carino Processing Ltd., will now be branded, marketed and distributed by the Qalipu Development Corporation (QDC), the band's company for business operations and investments.

Seal oil from Carino is certified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and, according to the company, is rich in essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3.

"The more we looked into it, the more we saw the value in terms of an Indigenous-branded seal oil capsule," said John Davis, manager of the Qalipu Development Corporation.

The First Nation has invested about $100,000 into the initiative and solicited the help of several consulting firms leading up to the launch.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

Davis said QDC was aware of the value of the production in the local market, and has already partnered with Colemans for local distribution.

The future plan is to get the product into national and international markets, however. Davis said QDC will target the 600-plus First Nations in Canada and will then look at entering the lucrative European market and beyond.

Davis says Taiwan, China and Korea, for example, also have strong markets for these types of products.

"They all have certain restrictions, but in every single case, they also have exemptions for Indigenous organizations," he said.

"There are just a few hoops and hurdles legally that you have to go through."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

Immigration, Skills and Labour Minister Gerry Byrne, who attended the launch Friday morning, says foreign leaders have said they will support similar Indigenous products in the past.

"It's time for those who feel they pass judgment on a resource … claiming that they will support Indigenous-led initiatives toward seal products to now open up that marketplace — as they said they would — to a very appropriate cultural product from Newfoundland and Labrador."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

QDC is also exploring other opportunities through seal oil products. Davis said they're looking into pet food as a possible product once they do more research.

"We're continually looking to expand our quotas and get access to new fish products from a revenue point of view," he said.

"The fishery really does represent a lot of opportunity for us."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

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