Between a business and a social enterprise: The Norway House Fisherman’s Co-op, northern Manitoba, Canada

The objective was to investigate the function of an Indigenous commercial fishery at Norway House Cree Nation as a social enterprise, and to examine its potential to enhance community economic development. Design/methodology/approach The research was conducted in three phases and outcome of each phase was used as an input for the next phase. In the first phase, questionnaire surveys were administered among commercial fishing households. In the second phase, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants, and in the third, with fisheries experts, food development experts, and government officials. Findings Norway House Fisherman’s Co-op functions as a social enterprise mainly because (a) commercial fishers contribute to local food security by sharing fish, and (b) the Co-op operates additional businesses which contribute to job creation and community economic development. Research limitations/implications The study was carried out in only one community and commercial fishery from northern Manitoba, and the results will not be directly applicable elsewhere. Practical implications This research provides recommendations for further development of commercial fisheries at Norway House: (i) fuller use of existing fish resources, (ii) value-added economic development and (iii) creative use of regulatory options. Originality/value The Co-op is identified as the engine of community development. It functions well but there are additional opportunities for development, such as reducing the discard of lower value fish, which is consistent with Indigenous Cree cultural values of not wasting resources.

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