Participation in Mainstream Industry Purpose of Anishinabek Cannabis Gathering on May 25

 

(Serpent River First Nation — May 23, 2019) The third Anishinabek Cannabis Gathering will be held this Saturday in Wahnipatae First Nation. The first two gatherings were held in Alderville and Pikwakanagan First Nations. All three communities currently have cannabis dispensaries that combined generate millions of dollars annually in revenue, as well as millions of dollars in income for community members.

“First Nations in Ontario, and across the country, are declaring their interests and rights to participate in this industry,” said Isadore Day, CEO of Bimaadzwin, and co-ordinator of the gatherings. “This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a foothold in a multi-billion-dollar market that will never disappear, that will continue to grow.”

 

“Let’s not forget that when the prohibition on alcohol was lifted in the 1930s, First Nations were not allowed to leave their reserves. Even up to the 1960s, First Nations were not allowed to purchase alcohol at Ontario run liquor stores. Today, the prohibition on cannabis is over, and our Peoples are ready grow and sell this natural green commodity to mainstream Canadians.

 

“For those First Nation retailers who are currently operating, there are a number of urgent priorities. They want to be seen as legitimate businesses in the eyes of the community and leadership,” said Day. “This means they are eager to operate under community cannabis laws. They also want to safely operate under Health Canada regulations and provincial laws.”

 

A good example of the impact the cannabis industry has had in one geographical area over the past year is at Pikwakanagan First Nation on Golden Lake. The seven dispensaries that have formed the Pikwakanagan Cannabis Business Association currently employ about 100 people, who earn an estimated $2.8 million income annually. This number continues to grow. Some employees are seniors who work part-time to supplement their pensions. Indigenous cannabis business leaders are also stressing their commitment to train, hire and help advance the socio-economic interests of people who would previously be seen as unemployable.

 

“Pikwakanagan is about a 90-minute drive from the City of Ottawa. Since the three provincially regulated cannabis dispensaries opened in Ottawa on April 1st, cannabis sales actually increased in Pikwakanagan,” said Day. “In fact, business has also increased for the local gas stations, restaurants, and businesses both on and off-reserve in the Golden Lake area. As long as consumers recognize that they are able to purchase quality cannabis, they will make the trip from the Ottawa—Gatineau area.

 

“In the meantime, there are a number of First Nation communities in Ontario who are currently drafting cannabis by-laws. In the years to come, these communities will be involved in producing, processing and selling. They will also establish a network that has the potential to become a significant economic generator for generations to come.

 

“At the end of the day, every single Indigenous individual or community who wants to either invest, or become directly involved in the cannabis industry, has the potential to grow and prosper for many years to come,” concluded Day. “That economic potential must also be respected, accepted, even celebrated by mainstream governments who realize that our Peoples have every right to grow their economies, locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.”

For information on the Anishinabek Cannabis Gathering, visit   https://bimaadzwin.ca/anishinabek-cannabis-gathering/

Bimaadzwin Reaction to Provincial Budget 2019: Ontario and First Nations agree that Federal Transfer Payments are key to creating wealth and the conditions to be open for business

(Serpent River First Nation, April 11, 2019) “Today’s provincial budget – the first by the Doug Ford Conservative government – makes a point that the current system of federal transfers is ‘broken and not working.’ As a former First Nation leader, I sympathize with Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s concerns. Nationally, First Nations are promised billions of dollars annually in programs and services, but it never seems to reach the communities.”

To quote today’s budget: ‘It is critical that the federal government treat Ontario’s businesses, individuals, and families fairly and support them through adequate transfer agreements, not more red tape and administrative burdens.’

“For First Nations in Ontario – and across Canada – this sounds very familiar – ‘red tape and administrative burdens’.  Just like the provinces and territories, First Nations need to break free of red tape and bureaucracy in Ottawa,” said Day. “At the same time, First Nations should no longer have to sit and wait for federal and provincial budgets to treat our peoples like line items in a budget.

“Just like the Province of Ontario, First Nations need to assert our jurisdictions through long term reliable, sustainable federal fiscal transfers that will go directly to our own authorities, regions, and communities. For example, the British Columbia First Nations Health Authority will receive $4.7 billion in direct federal transfer payments over the next decade, with the Province of BC adding $84 million.  This is First Nation health care delivered by First Nations.

“In 2017, the federal government announced that Indigenous Services Canada will download its funding and services, which includes health, to First Nation authorities and communities, within five years,” noted Day. “We now have a little over 3 years at the least to build capacity in our regions and communities in order to prepare to take control of our own services for our own peoples. This is how we will assert Nationhood.

“In closing, I am disappointed there was no mention of First Nations in today’s budget speech, other than the search for “willing Indigenous partners” to help develop the Ring of Fire minerals in the Far North. I predict that Ontario will have to search long and hard before our Peoples are ready to be open for resource development business. Our priority will always remain protecting the lands and waters for our children — and for all peoples across the country, and around the world.”

Bimaadzwin Federal Budget Reaction: Nationhood Needs to be Addressed in order to build First Nation Economies and Happy, Healthy Communities

(North Caribou Lake First Nation, March 20, 2019) “The highlight of yesterday’s federal budget is that it will be easier for millennials to buy new homes. However, far too many of the First Nation generation who grew up under the two-decade 2 per cent funding cap will continue to suffer in third world housing conditions,” said Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, CEO of Bimaadzwin. “If the federal government were truly serious about reconciliation, the focus on funding should have been on nation building, housing, and economic development. An extra $4.4 billion over four years on program spending, which includes $100 million for economic development, is not much of an investment.

“First of all, I want to commend the federal government for its continued commitment to eliminate Boil Water Advisories (BWAs) within the next two years. But clean drinking water is just one determinant of health. Like all Canadians take for granted, First Nations need clean drinking water flowing out of taps in homes that are safe to live in,” said Day. “As it stands in 2019, just as it did in 1999, First Nation housing remains in crisis. We need at least $8 billion nationally, which includes $2 billion in Ontario and $3 billion in Manitoba.

“On the same day as the federal budget, there was a headline about a four-month old First Nation baby who died after being taken from its mother in Manitoba. This baby is another victim of an Indian Act system that perpetuates poverty and helplessness. This baby’s mother grew up under a two per cent funding cap that has resulted in at least $25 to $30 billion in lost federal funding. This is the reason why we have children taken from their parents. This is the reason why we have children suffering from lung and skin diseases as a result of living in moldy, cold, overcrowded homes.

“On a positive note, I am currently working in North Caribou Lake First Nation, which just received a national Community Housing Recognition Award for the work being done by Housing Manager Gary Benson and his construction team of community members. This is an example of how leadership and commitment can make a positive difference when there is a focus on addressing the human right to housing.”

In August 2017, Indian And Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was split into two departments – Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations. At the same time, the First Nation and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) was absorbed into Indigenous Services. It was also announced that Indigenous Services would be dissolved within 5 years, by 2022, in order to be placed in direct control of First Nation governments.

“We have yet to see how First Nations will take control of our own destinies. In order to truly build our Nations, we need to be our own bureaucrats in order to address our own priorities,” said Day. “In order to assume control of our services and economies, we need to begin now to build capacity in our regional and local systems of government. This means we need the same level of control as provincial and territorial governments.

“True Nationhood will only occur when we have federal budgets in 2022 and beyond that directly transfer so many billions of dollars per year to our own economies and services,” concluded Day. “For the sake of our children, we must act now to build our Nations and control our destinies.”

For more information, please contact Bryan Hendry, Director of Marketing and Communications, at 613-863-1764 or bhendry@bimaadzwin.ca

 

 

 

 

Do Not Lose Sight of Health Services for our Most Vulnerable

OTTAWA – POLITICS – This past Tuesday, the provincial government announced that it will create a “super” agency called Ontario Health that will eventually dissolve the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LIHNs), and six other agencies which include Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario. The North West LIHN covers half of the province’s land mass and serves a mostly First Nation population.

Originally posted in the NetNewsLedger. Read More