Seafood storage facility to create jobs for Eskasoni First Nation

Eskasoni First Nation has teamed up with a fish processing group to create a new cold storage venture in Sydney, N.S.

Eskasoni Cold Logistics is housed in a former Co-op food handling facility. It was officially opened Sunday with a funding announcement from the federal and provincial governments.

The business is a partnership between Eskasoni First Nation and seafood producers Jim and Allan Gillis.

The 79,000-square-foot facility has the capacity to store up to 2.3 million kilograms of frozen seafood and 113,000 kilograms of live seafood, such as lobster.

Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking announced $750,000 in funding through ACOA, Indigenous Services Canada and the Atlantic Fisheries Fund.

The province is contributing $124,000. The funding will help create 15 jobs. 

Plant manager Jim Gillis said the business is taking off with lobster season underway.

"It's a viable place to hold your product instead of having to go into Halifax or Moncton for cold storage," said Gillis.  "It's the first of its kind in Cape Breton that we hold live product for the lobster industry." 

Gillis said there's some interest in the facility from across the Maritimes now that word is out.

George Mortimer/CBC

Steve Parsons, the general manager of Eskasoni's corporate division, said it's also a job creator for them.

He said the facility will employ four or five people to start and could add another 10 people in time.

"When you have a community with a high unemployment rate our wins are going to be small, but they're going to amount to a lot of accumulation over time," Parsons said. "And we'll continue to seek out those ventures that will allow people to be employed outside of the community."

George Mortimer/CBC

Eskasoni resident Irving Paul is working at the facility as a forklift driver. "It means a lot to have a job here. This way I support my kids, right."