WATCH: First Nations jewellery maker Ernest Smith says Marine Harvest is using part of his traditional name that dates back thousands of years.
On Jan. 1 Marine Harvest will change its name to Mowi and pay homage to one of the company’s founders Thor Mowinckel.
However, a Campbell River first nations artist and jewellery maker says the name Mowi is very close to his traditional name Mowisaht which he uses to brand his business.
“I’ve been building this brand around my first nations name for my jewellery and I’ve been doing that for the last three years and now this big corporation is going to come in and basically take this name and use it as their own,” said Ernest Smith.
His family first nation name Mowisaht comes from an ancient village on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
“I’ve been building my brand around my first nation name and that name has been in our family for thousands of years,” he said.
The company’s re-branding isn’t sitting well with Thor Mowinckel’s own family which was at the name-change meeting in Norway Dec. 4 to protest the decision.
One relative, Frederik W Mowinckel has even taken to Twitter to denounce the use of Mowi saying the family doesn’t agree with what “we consider an unsustainable way of farming salmon.”
Smith admits he has no specific rights to the name and doesn’t think Marine Harvest has done it intentionally. But he adds while the name change might make sense to the company in Norway it could have done more research about the cultural sensitivity of the name Mowi here.
In a statement to CHEK News, Marine Harvest says “we are aware of the concerns Mr. Smith has raised and are trying to meet with him as soon as possible to discuss them.”