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

Our Mother the Earth is in Peril: Leadership is Required Now From All Government Levels including First Nations

Our Mother the Earth is in Peril: Leadership is Required Now From All Government  Levels including First Nations

By Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini

October 12, 2018

That purple haze that you see in the air is not from next week’s long-anticipated legalization of cannabis. Don’t let the “where, when and how” Canadians can get legally high be a smokescreen for the two very real issues of the week that have so far dazed and confused any real response by our leaders on how we are going to save our planet.

First off, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released this past week a real wake-up call of a report which warns we have at best just 12 years to get our global act together in order to minimize the increase in world temperatures. A two-degree rise in temperature will be catastrophic for everyone and all living beings in the world – from droughts and forest fires to rising oceans that will flood major cities.

Carbon pollution needs to be cut by at least 45 per cent by 2030 – and that’s only 12 years away. Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna have been tweeting this week on how Canada will live up to its obligations to the 2016 Paris Climate Change Accord. Environmentalists have been retweeting, “hey, didn’t you guys just buy a pipeline?” One barrel of crude oil produces 317 kilograms of carbon dioxide. Maybe “the world needs more Canada” but the world does not need more Canadian produced carbon pollution. We need to de-carbonize the atmosphere – not add more certainty to humanity’s demise!

Also, on Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government does not have a duty to consult First Nations when it introduces legislation that may affect constitutionally protected Indigenous and Treaty Rights. As the former co-chair of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Climate and the Environment, this is why I resigned from the last two years regulatory review as the AFN’s lead.

At the time, we were supposed to be “co-drafting” legislation with the federal government. Then we were told that due to Cabinet secrecy, we would not be able to see the final version of legislation before it was introduced. This is not consistent to a Nation-to-Nation relationship – and one of the reasons why the recognition of rights Framework is being fiercely repelled by the majority of Indigenous Peoples and First Nation communities across the country.

How do any First Nation leaders within Crown government paid organizations respond without threat of funding cuts? What is the key message we need to hear from these organizations?
Climate change literally is a burning global issue. It requires a real collaborative effort between all levels of government, western scientists, our traditional knowledge keepers, and all our citizens to see the real change required to save this planet.

Indigenous communities are at the frontlines and feel the greatest impacts of climate change. Weather conditions prompted our First Nation leaders to raise concerns this past winter about the impact to winter roads and access. These roads are the life lines for food, fuel, and other necessities in dozens of northern communities.

Since time immemorial, Indigenous peoples have been the stewards of the lands. Despite the many attempts to colonize our ancestors, we are still here and every day we continue to practice this stewardship. It’s time for real work on the Nation to Nation relationship.

Our leaders need to pull their heads out of the sand right now. Now, more than ever, Canada needs First Nations at the table. The world needs Indigenous peoples at the table. For the sake of our children, we must stop polluting the air we breathe, and the water we drink. We must end the insane proportions of fossil fuel extensions into the global economic framework and de-entrench toward a reliance on clean, renewables and technologies that reverse carbonizing the earth’s atmosphere – for that we need real courage and real leaders.

Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, is the founder and CEO of Bimaadzwin.