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.
Infrastructure, Cannabis and Environment Will Be Highlighted at First Nation Economic Advancement Conference (FNEAC) in Toronto September 18-20, 2018
(Toronto, August 15, 2018) The 2018 First Nation Economic Advancement Conference (FNEAC) is just over a month away. The three-day event will feature panels, workshops, keynote speakers, and a trade show. The goal of FNEAC is to share success stories and build relationships that will lead to improved infrastructure, wealth creation, and better overall socio-economic conditions for the 133 First Nation communities in Ontario. First Nation leaders, economic development officers, government, business, and industry officials will be in attendance.
FNEAC is organized by OFNEDA – the Ontario First Nation Economic Developers Association, in partnership with CANDO, the national economic development officers’ organization, along with support from the CCAB – Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business – and CESO – Canadian Executive Service Organization. Indigenous Services Canada is the major sponsor. Other sponsors include CN, TD, BDC, OFNTSC, LIUNA, and Gowlings.
CANDO will host several pre-FNEAC workshops on Monday, September 17th. Urban Systems, a BC-based community planning organization, will kick-off FNEAC with a two-hour “Economic Land Use Planning” workshop on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 18th. Earlier this year, Rainy River First Nation, located in northwestern Ontario, received a Canadian Institute of Planners Award of Excellence for its community plan that was developed in partnership with Urban Systems.
OFNEDA will host their Annual General Meeting at 5:00pm on Tuesday September 18,2018
Beginning on the morning of Wednesday, September 18th, there will be keynote speakers, panels, and workshops on topics that include cannabis, major infrastructure, capacity building, agriculture and
aquaculture, trade, and the environment. A draft agenda is available at www.ofneda.com.
For the first time at a conference, the Indigenous Infrastructure Investment Trust (3IT) framework for attracting global capital will be presented. The 3IT framework was selected by the judges in the national CanInfra Challenge as a top 10 finalist and invited to present at the Transformational Infrastructure Summit in May 2018 attended by the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, industry and Financial CEOs and indigenous thought leaders.
First Nations groups in Canada have new resource for lobbying efforts
NEWS | JESSE CNOCKAERT/LOBBY MONITOR
PUBLISHED: TUESDAY, 08/14/2018 3:38 PM EDT
LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, 08/15/2018 9:04 AM EDT
Bimaadzwin, an Indigenous organization that provides consulting services on multisectoral issues, could be the first of its kind in the country, according to founder and CEO Isadore Day.
“We, as First Nations people, are always looking to see how we can have a better life based on the spirit and intent of our treaties and Bimaadzwin would be there to ensure our communities and leaders are ready to sit down with government or the private sector,” he said. “My work is basically to make sure our communities are better represented in the private sector as well as making sure, if our communities are going to lobby an issue, I do whatever I can to make them lobby-ready.”
He sees his organization as being focused on improving First Nation sovereignty, health, social and economic conditions.
Bimaadzwi is Day’s first venture after his term as Ontario’s regional chief ended in June, after losing the election to RoseAnne Archibald. Day was faced with a decision of what to do next after leaving the regional chief’s office, and he decided to continue furthering the interests of First Nations people with the creation of Bimaadzwin.
“I had a decision to make. I knew I wasn’t somebody who would sit behind a desk with my education and experience,” he said. “I knew I needed to give back. I can do things that would help our communities in another type of leadership role.”
Isadore Day, former Ontario Regional Chief, has founded Bimaadzwin, an Indigenous organization that will provide consulting services on multisectoral issues. The company’s soft launch was Aug. 12, with the official launch coming up Sept. 12. (Photo courtesy of Isadore Day).
Although Day does not see Bimaadzwin as a lobbyist organization, and he is not a registered lobbyist, he says his organization could assist First Nations people in their lobbying efforts.
“You limit yourself when you become a lobbyist. We don’t have anything against lobbying; we have to ensure our communities can lobby, but we definitely don’t want to be seen as confining our interests to lobbying initiatives,” he said. “I want to make sure our communities can lobby on their own steam. I think lobby groups are essential.”
Bimaadzwin had a soft launch on Aug. 12, coinciding with the last day of the annual pow wow in Serpent River, the First Nations community where Day was born. The Bimaadzwin website is still under construction and will be complete when the official launch of the organization happens Sept. 12.
That date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the Robinson-Huron Treaty, which was signed between Ojibwa chiefs and the Crown in 1850. The treaty allowed for the exploration of northern Ontario, with the signatories from First Nations communities expecting to receive increasing levels of revenue from the sale of natural resources from that land. The treaty was the subject of a lawsuit that began last September, with affected First Nations communities saying individuals are receiving annual payments of $4 from the treaty, which hasn’t changed since 1874.
According to Day, Bimaadzwin will provide strategic assessments for their clients and help with facilitation activities, but the actual meetings with government officials concerning issues will be up to them.
“We’ll provide information, but it will be up to the leadership or senior management to make those calls,” he said.
Day is already hard at work at Bimaadzwin. He’s currently educating the management of a German pharmaceutical company hoping to expand to Canada on the health issues affecting First Nations communities, such as thehigh rate of diabetes in First Nations children in northern Ontario.
He is also working with the First Nations Health Managers Association, which Day said is interested in working more closely with the local Indigenous leadership. Day has experience in both First Nations politics and health since he is also the former national chair of the Assembly of First Nations chiefs committee on health.
Bimaadswin’s staff currently consists of six core members, and another eight associates, according to Day. The company is incorporated as an Indigenous social enterprise.
The name of the organization, Bimaadzwin, was chosen because it means life in the Anishinabe language, Day said.
“Our work is to create a better quality of life,” said Day.
The company symbol depicts two young girls who represent Day’s daughters, Niigaan and Waasayaa standing at Old Woman’s Bay on the Great Lakes. The two girls are looking at a thousand-year-old pictograph of eight ancestors in a canoe.
“This represents our generations of the past and those yet to come,” said Day in a press release. “Most importantly, our children are the future and it is our responsibility to ensure that they are able to grow up in happy, healthy communities.”
In addition to his former role as a regional chief, Day also worked in construction, commercial fishing, and social services before being elected chief of Serpent River First Nation in 2005. Since then he has served as Lake Huron Regional Chief and has been involved with the Union of Ontario Indians, the Chiefs of Ontario and the North Shore Tribal Council.
The anticipated move by Ontario to scrap the LCBO-style public retail model of cannabis sales and replace it with private retailers is welcome news for First Nations, particularly those already involved in the cannabis industry, from production to sales.