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

Advancing Indigenous Nationhood Includes Control of Data and Technology

Alfred Loon, Leah Ballantyne, Montreal MP Marc Miller, who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Crown Relations, Allison Deer, and Bryan Hendry, attended the Indigenous Technology Summit last week in Montreal.

First Nations and Indigenous peoples must take control of technology and data in order to advance their Nationhood, culture, and economic independence.  This is one of the key themes of the Indigenous Technology Summit in Montreal hosted last week by the Mohwak Council of Kahnawake and Forrest Green.

Major sponsors and participants at the Summit included Indigenous Services Canada, Microsoft, Blakcberry, Mustihuhw Information Solutions, Okanagan Indian Band, Osyoos Indian Band, and the Atlantic Policy Congress. Bimaadzwin team members Allison Deer and Bryan Hendry attended along with about 70 delegates. Organizing Chairs were Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton and Murray Rowe Jr.

The goal of the summit was to gather input from First Nations and Indigenous peoples towards creating a high-tech association to promote developers, entrepreneurs and solutions.  The federal government is committed to assisting and providing IT education, job creation, capacity development, and generating own-source revenue in communities.

For example, Mustimuhw Information Solutions, owned by the Cowichan Tribes in BC, works with over 270 First Nations across the country.  Mustimuhw works with First Nation Health Centers and Child and Family Service Agencies who need to control their in information management systems. By having ownership, access, and control of personal health information, First Nations are able to provide better and safer services to their communities, children and clients.

For more information about the Summit, visit www.indigenousdata.ca For more information about the IT services available in Kahnawake, visit http://www.mohawkinternettechnologies.com/datacentre.htm
 

 

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

Bimaadzwin CEO Isadore Day is hosting a cannabis reception. Here’s why

Isadore Day is pictured in this 2015 file photo. Donna Hopper/SooToday

by James Hopkin

Originally published on June 10 at SooToday.com

Former Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day wants to talk to proponents of the First Nations cannabis industry about the opportunities that exist within going green.

The founder and CEO of Bimaadzwin – a company that provides services related to project management, facilitation and policy analysis, among other things – is using his company to host First Nation Cannabis Reception: Growth, Prosperity and Cultivating a Green Economy, an event slated for Monday evening at Sault Ste. Marie Delta Waterfront.

“It’s a file that obviously has great interest to the federal government, the provincial government and First Nations, and because First Nations have not been effectively engaged and consulted on this,” Day said.

The three-hour reception will be attended by First Nations cannabis retailers that are interested in discussing the idea of forming an association that would help create a framework for certification, testing and compliance going forward.

“Today’s meeting is going to be twofold – it’s going to be to actually discuss some of those internal issues, and how we put those targeted issues and requests,” Day said.

The timing of the Bimaadzwin cannabis reception isn’t pure happenstance, either.

The Chiefs of Ontario will be hosting its 45th annual All Chiefs Conference over the next three days, beginning Tuesday morning in Sault Ste. Marie.

“I don’t suspect it [cannabis reception] will be an overly huge meeting, but I do think it will be a meeting with the right people, and we are going to be sitting down and talking about what some of the communities are doing in the region here, and hopefully, making sure that they’re able to do what they need to do based on support that we can help them define in the chiefs assembly,” Day said.

The cannabis industry has been on Day’s radar for awhile – it precedes his political career – but now, he says, is the time for some clarity in terms of how First Nations enter a new and lucrative industry.   

“Many First Nations are dealing with cannabis on a number of different levels, and the way they’re asserting this on a number of different levels is something that should be brought into center, into focus this way – becoming much more clear about how communities engage, and how communities basically come up with their decisions around cannabis, and the priorities that they set out in their cannabis policies,” said Day. “That really should be the discussion we’re having.”

Bimaadzwin is now publishing an online cannabis and hemp industry magazine, Growth and Prosperity, to highlight, in part, the economic opportunities potentially available.  

“This is cultivation, it’s administration. It’s in the field, it’s processing, and it’s distribution and retail,” said Day. “So there’s a value chain within cannabis that is really of interest to First Nations, because there has been a lot of money made so far on cannabis, and it is a lucrative industry.”

“We’re now taking the time to examine those opportunities very carefully.”

Day says there’s essentially three ways in which First Nations can enter the cannabis industry – full sovereignty, full Crown compliance or a harmonized approach that would blend elements of Indigenous sovereignty and governmental compliance.

Day believes that many First Nations will end up taking the harmonized approach.   

“I don’t think the province or the federal government want to end up in court on this, because there was no real consultation with our communities,” said Day. “There were obviously discussions, but there was nothing that was coordinated on a level…where we could actually be recognized as a party to the enabling legislation – [Bill] C-45 – and then the rollout into the provinces.”

“First Nations are saying, ‘absolutely not, we cannot just take this for what it’s worth to the federal government and the provinces, we have to demonstrate what the worth of this industry is from our perspective,’” he continued. “That means putting in place our community laws, it means sitting at the table and negotiating those frameworks with the province and the federal governments, and basically, making sure that our communities are up to speed and supporting what we’re doing.”

Bimaadzwin has been at the forefront of two National Indigenous Cannabis and Hemp Conference events since the inaugural one, which took place in Alberta in November 2018.  

Those events, Day says, have helped push the First Nations cannabis file forward by establishing dialogue.  

“We’ve had federal and provincial governments with us all along, so where the Chiefs of Ontario and the AFN [Assembly of First Nations] may have not have been able to actually move this file, you know, being the former regional chief I understand the food chain, the political apparatus in the federal family, and I’ve been able to keep this ball rolling,” he said.

Day says that through Bimaadzwin’s work with the national cannabis conferences and talks with more than a dozen First Nations, the messaging surrounding First Nations involvement in the cannabis industry has been clear – even if the process is not. 

“The playing field is not level, I’ll say that much,” said Day. “The First Nations are saying, ‘listen, if we’re recognized as jurisdictions, if we are seen as First Nations, if reconciliation is real – then we should be able to do this as well.’”

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/

#RedDressDay

#MMIWG #RedDressDay #MMIWG2S

Today is Red Dress Day – signifying the honour and prayers for lost and stolen sisters and their safe return and peace, in cases where their lives have been taken.
Angela Trudeau displayed this dress outside of our residence in Sault Ste Marie. We live on a busy street where people will not only see beauty, they will wonder why? If they don’t already know about this important social justice movement in our Indigenous community and in Our Nations, they should. 
 
We at Bimaadzwin express our appreciation, support and gratitude to all the families, communities, allies, advocates and activists who are working to heal and bring awareness and justice for Indigenous women, girls and two spirited people.
 
The video below is a DJ set shared by Boogey the Beat in 2014 in honour of MMIWG. Sadly, it remains relevant today.

Kashechewan – Remote, and Not Removed From Danger

Originally published in 

It’s time to move Kashechewan

Yesterday, Chief Leo Friday and 250 community members rallied on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest and raise awareness over the fact that Kashechewan has been evacuated every spring over the past 17 years due to flooding of the Albany River on James Bay.

These desperate people are members of the Cree Nation, but they have been treated like second class citizens by the Nation of Canada and the Province of Ontario.

As Chief Friday said in an April 29th open letter, his community was physically located to a flood plain by the federal government back in the 1950s. Ever since, this “out of sight, out of mind” community has suffered unspeakable duress and despair that has spawned a cycle of suicide crises. Everyone, from children to elders, must be evacuated to southern towns and cities, living in motels for up to two months at a time.

“For decades, our leadership has sought government assistance to relocate the community to higher ground farther upstream to avoid the devastating flooding. Over two years ago, on March 31, 2017, we even signed a framework agreement with Canada and Ontario to relocate our community,” said Chief Friday in his letter.

A framework agreement. This is the enduring problem. Ever since the Treaties were signed; since Canada became a Confederation; and since the 1876 colonial Indian Act, First Nations have been treated like wards of the state. Our lives are regulated by faceless, indifferent bureaucrats, by meaningless MoUs and agreements. Our hopes are raised and dashed by a parade of Ministers from varying political parties.

The enduring problem is that First Nations are not treated as equals in this country, in this land that we promised to share with the newcomers. We are not Nations. We have no Nationhood. We have been reduced to a scattering of Indian Act bands – far too many bands rely upon government handouts to survive.

In fact, our own organizations rely upon government funding to survive. We have become lines in a budget, funding in a budget cycle that may be reduced depending upon the federal or provincial deficit of the day. Our leaders have been reduced, as Elder John Thunder once stated, to “a pack of dogs begging at the government table.”

To put things into historic perspective, the current Minister of Indigenous Services is Seamus O’Regan, a proud Newfoundlander, who promotes his province’s accomplishments on Twitter at least several times a week. As well he should. The latest Minister in charge of Canada’s Indians comes from a province that was the last to join Confederation in 1949, just 70 years ago.

Back then, Newfoundland was part of the British Commonwealth. However, by the late 1940s, Britain was not pleased with the lack of wealth being generated by Newfoundland. Indeed, a great number of Newfoundlanders were living in grinding poverty. It was to time cut to the colonial ties.

Canada was very willing to bring Newfoundland into the federal family.

Since the 1950s, during the same span of time that Kashechewan began experiencing floods and despair due to relocation, Newfoundland gradually became more prosperous At one point, due to offshore oil, Newfoundland became a “have” province and did not have to rely upon multi-billion dollar transfers from Ottawa.

Newfoundland and Labrador, their people, and their culture are considered valued contributors to Canada’s economy and identity.

In contrast, First Nations, the original “partners” with Canada, are still seeking that equality that comes with being members of Confederation. First Nations are still seeking that elusive Nationhood that will allow us to become valued members and contributors to Canada.

Until we are able to self-govern, until we are able to receive reliable transfer payments, First Nations will continue to be perpetual victims.

We will continue to have crises in Kashechewan, Cat Lake, Grassy Narrows, Pikangikum, and dozens of more communities across the country.

It’s time to stand up. Honour our Ancestors who signed the Treaties.

Honour the future of our children. It’s time to claim our Nationhood.

Earth Day 2019 – Protecting the Next Generation

(Serpent River First Nation, April 22, 2019) The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Protecting Our Species.” We are in a time which we all have an awareness that climate change and the impacts of global warming are definitely real. This sense becomes even more acute when we recognize the inevitable change and unavoidable impacts that our children and their children will inherit.

Protecting our planet is most certainly something that we must get correct when we as parents, teachers, Elders, knowledge keepers, industry leaders, policy makers and experts explain the issue of Climate Change. So let’s begin with what we know about the theme of this year’s Earth Day theme. First some history. On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.

In the North American continent, and around the world, smog was becoming deadly, and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants. That was 49 years ago – thus far minimal progress has been made, or we wouldn’t be swimming in peril and global anxiety.

The Earth Day Networks is an important initiative that is recognized as the world’s largest movement focused on the realities and possible solutions to pushing back against the impacts of climate change. On their website, in support of this year’s theme you will find a protection list of 14 species: bees, giraffes, coral reefs, whales, elephants, insects, trees, plants, birds, fish, sharks, crustaceans, sea turtles and great apes. https://www.earthday.org/campaigns/endangered-species/earthday2019/

The Earth is still humanity’s only home in all the Universe, and the only world that we know of that is capable of supporting human beings. Today, Earth Day, it’s more vital than ever to appreciate it; meaning, we need to get it right now.

What about this year’s theme? Well, in one way it is an excellent effort to help focus on some critical measure that must be made to protect the planet. It also has me thinking about two things – the omission of human beings on the species list and the use of the word “our” in the theme: Protecting Our Species. If we are going to have an impact on the enormity of climate change, we must be prepared as a global community to challenge our perspective about where we fit in on the circle of endangered species and we must be prepared to challenge the views that are perpetuated by language that places a subtle sense of superiority of humans over other life forces.

Indigenous Peoples perspectives may have some validity to this perspective. This year, for example, Turtle Island News, has issued an Earth Day edition which has references, stories, scheduled events, and links to the issues around climate change – http://theturtleislandnews.com/index.php/all-news/.

It is well known; we’ve long been at a climate change crossroads for some time. The harmonious world that our ancestors have known even before European contact on Turtle Island, was also a world in which they prophesied that survival depended on the way we would make change. These references conveyed by indigenous knowledge keepers have common threads in changing our practices, by making change in our hearts and making a deliberate shift in our minds.

The most important shift in our paradigm is not just about the earth, but about one another. Nations, regions, communities, families and our fellow brothers and sisters; it’s time for moving beyond destructive relationships that only create strife and inequity among the human species.

Survival depends on all life being respected to the highest degree and care for the earth in a manner that a newborn loves their mother – revering, loving and respecting.

From my family to yours – let’s make Earth Day every day and let us never lose sight of the importance of caring for all life; teaching the next generation that life will hand back the balance of how we as humans treat the gift of life that has freely been given to us.

Bimaadzwin’s goal is Advancing Nationhood and Sovereignty by focusing on Land, People and Prosperity.

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