Seafood Business Accelerator Provides Vital Springboard for Indigenous Business Owner

Natasha presents her business at the Accelerator Showcase event in May 2023. Photo by Amanda Fortier.

Natasha Marshall Gallic from c̓išaaʔatḥ, Tseshaht First Nation, is part of the first cohort of Seafood Business Accelerator participants, a program led by Vancouver Island University’s Centre for Seafood Innovation that ran from March through the end of April 2023. The program gives small-scale seafood harvesters the tools and guidance they need to compete in the province’s fisheries and aquaculture sector. Natasha created miʔaat Community Supported Fisheries, which will be Canada’s first Indigenous woman-owned, community-supported fisheries business.

“Community-supported fisheries means that it’s for us by us. It’s a decolonized business model because it isn’t dependent on anybody else except our own to provide for our people,” says Natasha, who recently completed her Indigenous Business Leadership Executive MBA at Simon Fraser University.

miʔaat is a way to create connections and support community members, whether they live at home or away from the community. As traditional foods are an important part of that connection, miʔaat will be filling an important need across several Indigenous communities.

“We take care of our own people. We can harvest for them. It’s like a circular economy because we’re giving back to ourselves through this service.”

Miʔaat Community Supported Fisheries is a business model for selling fresh, locally sourced seafood. The product comes from community-based fishers who live in the communities where they fish and there will be a membership program offering weekly shares of the caught seafood. This unique model blends environmental stewardship, economic stability, and social improvements.

Miʔaat Community Supported Fisheries Innovation Plan presented at the Accelerator Showcase event. Photo by Amanda Fortier.

Miʔaat Community Supported Fisheries Innovation Plan presented at the Accelerator Showcase event. Photo by Amanda Fortier.

Natasha enrolled in the Seafood Business Accelerator program after her mentor, Andy Olsen, the former Executive Director of the Native Fishing Association, thought it could help bring her business idea to the next level. Natasha says the program expanded her business understanding of what kind of company she could successfully create.

“It was a stepping stone – a platform for me. It allowed me to gain awareness of what kind of strategy and marketing I must think about,” says Natasha.

Natasha also says the accelerator program was very inclusive, which is integral in building a strong and resilient industry.

“It’s so important that Indigenous people are recognized for their rights within the fishing industry and to have their voice. This visibility and inclusion within the fishing industry is very important,” she says, furthering that miʔaat will build on her family’s fishing business, which uses a custom aluminum boat called Sith Slayer.

For Natasha, participating in the Seafood Accelerator admittedly “opened her eyes” to the number of resources available to help her business. It was also a space for businesses to share lessons learned, collaborate and mentor one another.

Natasha envisions miʔaat as a sustainable and equitable business model — one where First Nation community members have an equal share or equal distribution of traditionally harvested food. This will help ensure their food sovereignty, as well as their food security.


This article is a reproduction of a Vancouver Island University Blog post (June 6, 2023).

Island Coastal Economic Trust is honoured to have been working in close partnership with the Centre for Seafood Innovation project on the Seafood Business Accelerator program valued at over $186,000. The Trust contributed $60,000 to the overall budget.