First Nation Jurisdiction on Cannabis will Improve the Wealth and Health of our Nations

First Nations must act now – together -- to capitalize on this new green economy that will continue to grow, and has the potential to generate prosperity for decades and generations to come.

Isadore Day

Just over six months ago, Canada legalized cannabis and opened the door to enormous opportunities for those First Nation communities and entrepreneurs who want to get in on the ground floor of a new green economy. The fact that federal government had done little or no consultation with First Nations has become a blessing in disguise. The door is wide open for First Nation control of cannabis.

We have already seen that both Canada and the provinces have had difficulty with the major Licenced Producers, who have not been able to meet the demand. Some of these producers have tried to cut corners by growing in facilities that have not been licenced. Others have produced inferior cannabis products.

Can our communities control the licensing, cultivation, and sale of cannabis and hemp? Yes. Will our community members benefit from long-term employment in the cannabis industry? Yes. First Nations can do a better job of protecting their community members, while generating wealth and improving health through a natural, green industry.

We have already seen First Nation dispensaries open across the country. Every single one appears to be doing a booming business by selling safe, quality products, mostly to mainstream consumers. More importantly, First Nation cannabis retailers have established a reliable national supply chain of products that is far superior to that of the Licenced Producers.

The challenge that First Nations now face is to ensure that we will be able to cultivate, process, and retail cannabis that is entirely legal and legitimate in the eyes of the federal and provincial governments. From a policy perspective, Bimaadzwin has been involved since Day One to help make this a reality. By keeping the door open to government approval, we can establish our own stream of wealth that will transform our economies.

At the end of the day, First Nation involvement in the cannabis industry is all about our communities. Unlike the tobacco industry where only a few become rich, we now have the opportunity to spread the wealth, which will improve the health and well-being of our communities.

In the coming months, those First Nations who want to become involved in the industry must work together based upon sovereignty and jurisdiction. We must engage with the federal and provincial governments to ensure harmonization with mainstream Canada. In fact, we must be able to prove that First Nation cannabis products are equal or superior to those approved by Health Canada.

First Nations must act now – together — to capitalize on this new green economy that will continue to grow, and has the potential to generate prosperity for decades and generations to come.

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

Ontario First Nation chiefs vote to assert jurisdiction over cannabis operations

Photo from The Canadian Press

by James Hopkin

Originally published on June 13 at SooToday.com

SAULT STE. MARIE – The Chiefs of Ontario have passed a resolution enabling First Nations to assert complete jurisdiction to govern all cannabis operations within their own territories.

The resolution was passed during the 45th Annual All Ontario Chiefs Conference in Sault Ste. Marie Thursday.

Thessalon First Nation Chief Edward Boulrice moved the resolution, with Garden River First Nation Chief Paul Syrette acting as the seconder.

The resolution argues that no consultation took place with the federal government prior to the legalization of cannabis this past October.

“There was little or no community consultation by the federal government and there are still no provisions in the legislation which address First Nation social and cultural needs, and rights to economic development, health and public safety,” the resolution reads.

While the resolution acknowledges that First Nations may consider following federal and provincial regulations while exploring opportunities within the cannabis industry, it also allows First Nations jurisdiction to establish their own laws and regulations.

“First Nations must have their autonomy and authority recognized as rights holders at the table as governments when asserting their interests in the cannabis sector,” the resolution states.

The resolution asserts First Nations jurisdiction over its own operations, which includes ‘regulation of the growth, processing and sale of cannabis and in all its derivatives.’

The document also urges federal and provincial governments to eliminate barriers and to ‘cease interference that would impede nation-to-nation trade and commerce.’

The Chiefs of Ontario represent 133 First Nations throughout the province.

– SooToday.com

An Indigenous Perspective – April 20th Growth and Prosperity

 
Today is a well-known annual check-point for cannabis activists, industry players  and, it’s a festival for those who want to know what the buzz is with 4-20. While the origins of this annual cannabis celebration is disputed, one thing is clear, many people across the country are celebrating this green leafy plant, making April 20tha day of significance.
 
 Let’s consider for a moment, a connecting historical conversation from the Indigenous perspective here in what is now referred to as Canada; right back to the early colonial expeditions that landed explorers on to the eastern shores that were seen as unfit and undesirable.
 
On this very same day — April 20 — in 1534, French explorerJacques Cartier set off from Saint-Malo with 2 ships and 61 men. Favoured by “good weather,” he crossed the Atlantic in 20 days.“I did not see one cart-load of earth,” it was “the land God gave to Cain.” On June 15, he steered “towards the south” and entered unexplored regions. He went along the west coast of Newfoundland, distributing French names, and reached what is now called Cabot Strait, but he did not perceive that it was a navigable channel and turned westward.
 
This being the “new world” for early settlers, it was seen as “terra nullius”, empty land that had no human lives, where the Indigenous were seen as savage and without a soul – it was a sign of how visiting colonizers would conduct themselves in subsequent centuries; all leading us to April 20th2019.
 
Today Canada’s legislative agenda and policies are fraught with an insidious racist narrative and modern foundation of colonial arrogance that still does not respect Indigenous Nationhood. All this to say that cannabis laws in Canada are not anywhere near built on mutual interest, considering the rights, jurisdiction and economic interests of First Nations who wish to exercise their inherent and treaty rights separate and autonomous from that of federalist influence.
 
Now that we have the historical context set out, I note that Indigenous Peoples have a 4-20 perspective on cannabis that deserves attention. Our laws, economic rights, trade practices, social perspectives, and responsibilities are virtually unrecognized by the federal government in this country; at least without struggle and assertion. 
 
You see, all of these rights of Nationhood are founded in Sovereignty that has never been relinquished, given away, nor were we conquered by war. As a matter of fact, our warriors were, and continue to be, allies in wartime and peacekeeping duties. The point here is this – Canadians still benefit from the strength and defense obligations of First Nations as Nationhood partners.
 
When we look across the country, we see many hard-fought assertions to participate in Canada’s cannabis industry – but it’s not an easy, cut and dried task to unpack where First Nations stand in today’s industry.  The mishmash of views and approaches to First Nation jurisdictional issues are perceived by Canada is a result of the neglect of not only Canada and the province, but due to the political paralysis of some of our own First Nation leaders on the issue – but that another story for another day.
 
Without getting too far into the weeds – we know that there are three central concerns from Indigenous Peoples regarding Canada’s laws on cannabis:
 
First, respecting the Nationhood rights of Indigenous communities on cannabis means a formal recognition of First Nation industry interests. 
 
Secondly, consultation laws that Canada is bound to, simply were not respected in the accelerated manner that the federal government advanced the legislative agenda. 
 
Finally, Canada’s claims to reconciliation – at least from the economic perspective, are clearly of no significant consequence.
 
First Nations today that wish to assert their interests in this industry are faced with persecution and labelling of being a grey market, or as having ties with a black market. It is being suggested that what First Nations are developing, despite colonial incursion on their cannabis rights, is the Red Market.
 
Intrigue has been sparked by the determination in approach by Indigenous entrepreneurs, and the impact that First Nations who are not prepared to allow a colonial narrative to be perpetuated are having on the industry . You will also notice, if you look closely, that First Nation cannabis entrepreneurs who are succeeding, are well empowered with expertise, innovative ideas, investment capacity and are sought by non-Indigenous investors because of the edge that Indigenous Nationhood rightfully maintains. Taxation, law-making authority, land, and an Indigenous worldview goes a long way in an industry that is based on a product that is living, comes from the land, and requires organic intelligence.
 
First Nation cannabis is going to flourish – not because colonial laws dictate, but because First Nations are not going to be dictated to by-laws that did not initially consider Indigenous interest.
 
So on this annual commemoration of cannabis culture, remember that it was JacquesCartier’s failing as he set out on April 20, 1534 to find new lands to exploit, to not anticipate a People with pride, dignity, drive, determination, and ability.A People with all those necessary attributes in the business acumen that we are seeing in First Nation cannabis business leaders who are rightfully challenging Canada’s laws today.
 
Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini
CEO Bimaadzwin

Sovereignty, Indigenous partnerships, licencing were main themes of 2nd National Indigenous Cannabis and Hemp Conference (NICHC) held this week in Ottawa

(Ottawa, February 22, 2019) For the first time ever, two federal ministers spoke at a cannabis conference – Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Border Securities Minister Bill Blair, who is in charge of Canada’s Cannabis Act. Both Ministers made encouraging statements yesterday on the need to further include Indigenous peoples in the hemp and cannabis industry.

“We are supporting Indigenous communities who want to have a role in the cannabis landscape,” said Minister Petipas Taylor, who pointed out that Canada’s legalization and regulation of cannabis presents an historic opportunity to do things better. “Our government respects Indigenous peoples needs, desires and perspectives.”

Minister Blair pointed out that Indigenous Services Canada has recently modernized its economic development policies in order to address participation in the cannabis industry. “Our government recognizes the important link between economic development and improved outcomes in health and social development. The Cannabis Act provides an open and fair licencing process.”

When asked by a delegate if the government would respect the Algonquin sovereign right to produce and sell cannabis in the territory that includes Ottawa, Minister Blair replied: “We acknowledge and respect the jurisdiction of First Nations. There is an important nation to nation discussion on how both of our jurisdictions are recognized, especially in the health and safety of our peoples.”

Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, CEO of Bimaadzwin, who chaired the conference, said there is a multi-billion-dollar potential for partnerships among the 300 delegates, exhibitors and fledgling Indigenous companies/retailers who were present. “That mainstream cannabis train is going to keep on going. Let’s jump on our own track, under our own steam. At the same time, we need to build trust with governments and the Canadian public. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all our Nations to partner and participate in this growing industry.”

Kahnawake Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton stressed that his community is developing its own cannabis law in order to ensure public health and safety and access to a population of three million in the Montreal area. “We are already a major contributor to the economy. We employ a lot of people. We need to educate the provincial and federal governments on what we do. We’re going to take advantage of our location. If cannabis is one product that’s going to be in demand, then let’s do it.”

Opaskwayak Cree Nation Onekanew Christian Sinclair brought his remote Manitoba community out of debt by investing and partnering in cannabis production and retail companies in Canada and California. “Because of the current cannabis shortage for years to come, this is a golden opportunity for all First Nations to get into the game.”

Bimaadzwin continues to work towards clarifying and setting out challenging policy discussions. These challenges are being identified by working with Indigenous cannabis entrepreneurs, communities, and leaders within First Nation, federal, and provincial jurisdictions in regard to participation in the hemp and cannabis economy.

For more information, please contact:

Bryan Hendry, Director of Marketing and Communications, bhendry@bimaadzwin.ca or 613-863-1764

All photos by Fred Cattroll

WIISAG Announces Safe, Effective, and Affordable Cannabis Health Program for First Nation and Inuit Patients

 

(November 26, 2018, Toronto, ON) Wiisag Corporation, a First Nation cannabis company headquartered at Neyaashiinigmiing, ON, is pleased to announce that it will offer personal health services designed and delivered by Indigenous Nurses. These services are for those First Nation and Inuit patients who either have an existing authorization to use medicinal cannabis or want to determine if cannabis is potentially beneficial to their personal health.

“We are welcoming patients into the Wiisag family. We strongly believe that it is necessary for health professionals to not just authorize access to cannabis but, to guide patients throughout their journey until we all know more about the impacts of cannabis,” said Juanita Rickard, Registered Nurse and Director of Wiisag’s Health Services Bureau. “Cannabis products are very complicated and impact every person differently, depending on a whole range of factors, such as pre-existing medicines and current health. Our Health Services team is made up of Indigenous Nurses who will monitor each patient’s personal health journey with cannabis, and study how cannabis is impacting their health and well-being and recommend appropriate adjustments in products.”

Wiisag is in discussions with the Federal government and Licensed Producers to make the cannabis products our Wiisag Nurses deem appropriate for our patients affordable. Wiisag has recommended that the Government pay for cannabis only for patients who also fully participate in the Health Services Program until more analysis is available concerning the benefits of cannabis as part of a holistic health program.

“Wiisag is committed to improving the health of our First Nation/Inuit brothers and sisters across the country.  Wiisag’s vision of health excellence is evidenced in our investment in carefully selected health service professionals and in our partnerships with academic institutions and industry players,” said Isadore Day, Government and Community Relations. “Sadly, we know that First Nations and Inuit people in Canada are on average in poorer health and have shorter life expectancies than other Canadians.  We also know that First Nations and Inuit people in Canada suffer disproportionately from such disorders as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, nausea and opioid addiction to name a few. The proper use of cannabis, supervised by indigenous nurses may be a real improvement for our people’s health

Wiisag has supply and cooperation agreements with select Licensed Producers. Wiisag health services professionals have identified select cannabis products from these LPs that they believe will potentially be beneficial to Wiisag patients. These LPs have sublicense Wiisag’s brand and will supply Wiisag’s authorized patients.

“We want to provide comfort and certainty to our patients first and then the system. Our nurses are working with a select few Licensed Producers to choose appropriate strains and thc/cbd combinations which will be offered as Wiisag brand cannabis products. We are well on the road to safe and effective use of cannabis with our nurse’s program and now we are focused on ensuring that cannabis products are affordable for our First Nations and Inuk patients. We are working on a number of strategies to achieve this critical objective,” said Jake Linklater, Founder and Executive Chairman.

Wiisag is a First Nations integrated cannabis business active in all elements of the cannabis business; Cultivation (indoor and outdoor), product development, processing and packaging. In addition to these activities Wiisag is investing in a unique Cannabis Health Services program based on consultations with First Nations leaders and communities. Wiisag intends to compete globally as the authentic First Nation cannabis company and invites all First Nations leaders to reach out for further information.

To further advance this endeavour, Joel Strickland, Founder and Chief Executive Officer said, “We intend to create a competitive, authentic, indigenous global brand to compete in the cannabis industry by making it attractive for First Nations communities and indigenous entrepreneurs to join Wiisag’s national network. We have listened carefully to Chiefs, Councilors, Elders, leaders and communities’ concerns about (and hopes for) cannabis. We then went to the indigenous health care community to understand how they could be effective in terms of facilitating a safe, and effective experience with cannabis for suitable patients.”

Interested patients, whether you already have an existing authorization to use medicinal cannabis or not are invited to pre-register with Wiisag at info@wiisag.ca as the program will go live on February 14, 2019.

For more information, including a backgrounder, contact:

Bryan Hendry, Director of Marketing and Communications, bhendry@wiisag.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One Roll Out of Legal Cannabis A Positive Sign of Potential Economic ‘Reconciliation’ for First Nation Producers and Retailers

MEDIA RELEASE

October 18, 2018

Day One Roll Out of Legal Cannabis A Positive Sign of Potential Economic ‘Reconciliation’ for First Nation Producers and Retailers

(Serpent River First Nation, October 18, 2018) After just one day of legalized cannabis rolling out across the country, Canada’s new green economy has sparked a huge appetite in the hundreds of thousands of consumers who lined up at store fronts and clicked away online. In fact, the overwhelming demand has already resulted in shortages of certain products.

“The media has reported that some stores ran out of cannabis by early afternoon while online retailers had over a million visitors yesterday,” said Isadore Day, Founder and Chief Executive Offices of Bimaadzwin Inc. “Of course, it was the first day of legalization and we’ll never again see people lining up at midnight in order to buy a few grams of marijuana. However, this is a strong indication that in the months and years to come, the cannabis industry needs a reliable supply of product.

“As the former co-chair of the Assembly of First Nations’ National Task Force on Cannabis, I remain very much involved in all aspects of the potential for Indigenous participation in this new industry. There are dozens of First Nation communities who have developed business opportunities in production facilities. At last month’s Ontario First Nation Economic Advancement Conference, held in Toronto, a survey revealed that over 60 per cent of economic development officers indicated their communities have already been approached to participate as partners or investors in the cannabis industry.”

To some extent, First Nations in Ontario have gained much experience in the industry in recent years. Tyendinaga First Nation has about 40-50 dispensaries, as well as a production facility that complies with all federal standards. The Mohawks of Akwesasne recently became the first 100 per cent First Nation owned cannabis production facility to be granted a medical marijuana licence from Health Canada.

“Next month, the very first Indigenous focused cannabis conference will be held at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino in Calgary, hosted by the Tsuut’ina First Nation (www.nihc.ca). A second conference will be held in Ottawa in February, 2019,” said Chief Day. “These are opportunities for governments and industry to work with First Nations not just on economic development, but education, health and safety as well.

“When the prohibition of alcohol ended in the 1930s, beer, wine, and liquor grew into annual multi-billion dollar industries. Until the 1960s, First Nations were not even allowed to purchase alcohol,” noted Chief Day. “The end of cannabis prohibition represents an opportunity for economic ‘reconciliation’ with Canada’s First Peoples. It’s time that this new green economy benefit the Peoples who have shared these lands in the expectation that we would all share in the wealth for generations to come.”

Cannabis and climate change were two of the hot topics featured at this week’s First Nations Economic Advancement Conference (FNEAC)

Erin Mathews, Isadore Day, and Tito Domoto attend the FNEAC conference in Toronto on September 20, 2018.

 

MEDIA RELEASE
Cannabis and climate change were two of the hot topics featured at this week’s First Nations Economic Advancement Conference (FNEAC)

 

(Toronto, September 21, 2018) Cannabis and climate change were just two of the urgent topics explored at this week’s sold-out First Nations Economic Advancement Conference (FNEAC). There are almost limitless long-term economic opportunities for First Nations in both the emerging cannabis industry and combating the effects of climate change.

Isadore Day, founder and CEO of Bimaadzwin, moderated both the cannabis and climate change panels. An electronic survey conducted following the cannabis panel showed the majority of First Nation economic development officers in attendance stated their communities are currently involved or are open to partnering with established cannabis companies.

“The growing interest of First Nation participation in the cannabis industry is partly driven by the fact that our own Peoples are now involved in establishing their own companies,” said Day. “First Nations are also actively involved in the cannabis investment side of the industry. Mainstream cannabis companies and investors now realize there is much potential for First Nation control of a significant portion of the market once cannabis becomes legal next month.”

The Canadian Securities Exchange, which attended the FNEAC, reported that it has outperformed the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) since late last year as a result of increased investment in cannabis companies that focus not only on recreational use but medical, health and wellness aspects. Companies such as Long North Capital are focused on exclusively raising investment funds for First Nation communities.

“In terms of climate change, we’ve seen a huge number of wildfires from northern BC to northern Ontario. In fact, as of this week, there are still 180 out of control forest fires across the country,” said Day. “Our Peoples must be front and centre, not only in combating fires, but ensuring that Canada and the world acts now to end global warming before it’s too late. The number one solution is reducing greenhouse gas by ending our reliance on the oil industry.

The climate change panel featured Dr. David Pearson of Laurentian University, who co-chaired the Ontario Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaption. He is currently working with First Nation communities in the far north who are assessing the impacts of climate change. Dr. Adriaan Davidse presented on long-term solutions such as renewable energy integration systems that are analogous to the underground network of roots that sustain the plants and trees in a forest.

“We need to de-construct and restructure how the world produces energy,” said Day. “Canada cannot do this alone. First Nations cannot play their small – albeit significant role without a large and substantial investment in technologies that will begin to reverse climate change. We must have a First Nation driven summit to examine all the solutions – current and future – in the coming months. Time is running out to preserve the planet for our children and future generations. Economic development alone will not resolve our issues – we must have quality of living prosperity.”

For more information, Contact:

Bryan Hendry, Bimaadzwin Director of Marketing and Communications, 613-863-1764

bhendry@bimaadzwin.ca

 

 

 

Bimaadzwin at Marijuana Business Conference and Expo International in Toronto

Chief Day with Bruce Linton, Founder of Canopy Growth Corporation

Bimaadzwin at Marijuana Business Conference and Expo International in Toronto

 

I spent the last several days at the largest cannabis conference to be held in Canada. There were 2,000 delegates and 125 exhibitors from 30 countries at the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo International at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

In terms of both speakers and exhibitors, the most glaring absence was First Nation or Indigenous content.

 

With just 60 days to go before cannabis sales become legal in Canada on October 17th, now is the time for government and industry to fully and completely engage First Nations who are already involved in the production and sales of cannabis and cannabis related products. This has the potential to become a major revenue stream and employer for First Nation communities.

 

It comes as no surprise that the majority of Canadians polled have indicated they are more interested in consuming cannabis products rather than smoking marijuana cigarettes. When all the illegal dispensaries are shut down, that will leave only First Nation dispensaries to serve those members of the public who would rather consume edibles than smoke cannabis related products.

 

Next month, cannabis will be a major theme at the First Nation Economic Advancement Conference (FNEAC), hosted by the Ontario First Nation Economic Developers Association (OFNEDA) – September 18-20 at the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. First Nation cannabis producers will be there to tell their side of the story. More importantly, this will be an opportunity for them to demonstrate that their products are safe, and that First Nations can play a major role in the growth of this fledgling legalized industry.