Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)

Consortium of Indigenous chiefs seeking a way to participate in cannabis economy

All Nations Chiefs from the Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets holding online forum Dec. 2

Indigenous communities have been left out of the Canadian cannabis economy, and a group of Indigenous chiefs are out to change that for the good of their communities.

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y First Nation says a consortium they’re calling “All Nations Chiefs” has worked for months to negotiate an agreement for on-reserve cannabis distribution directly with the province – but to no avail.

“It’s been two years since the rollout where they did not consult adequately with First Nations,” said Gladstone. “We are trying to find a way to participate in this new economy.”

To get there, they’ve organized an online forum with All Nations Chiefs from the communities of Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets for the morning of Dec. 2. Organizers have invited Premier John Horgan, stakeholders, and the public to join them in the virtual dialogue on the cannabis question.

Gladstone described the recalcitrance from provincial counterparts as “another pathway out of poverty blocked” for First Nations communities across Canada, noting that only four per cent of Canadian cannabis licences are Indigenous-affiliated.

“That four per cent should be disturbing to everyone,” he said.

The group has also launched a petition that had almost 1,500 signatures by Nov. 27.

“We are asking Honourable Premier Horgan to take real action towards reconciliation and honour his government’s platform commitment to the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights (UNDRIP) by allowing First Nations to participate in B.C.’s cannabis industry,” according to the petition preamble.

Since legalization, local First Nations leaders have been trying to control their own their destinies by finding a way to participate in the emerging economy “on a nation-to-nation basis,” the chief said.

Shxwha:y officials decided to go the route of applying for a Section 119 licence agreement under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Agreement Act, Chief Gladstone explained.

A Section 119 licence is required to legally distribute cannabis from retail stores on reserve land, and involve the province entering into agreements with individual First Nations, which supersede the Act. Only one community has signed such an agreement to date, the Williams Lake Indian Band. The Shxwha:y application used the Williams Lake vision as their model.

Some of the on-reserve cannabis stores in the area without provincial licensing have been operating in what government officials would describe as a grey area legally, while leaders are trying to negotiate a better way, with formal applications pending.

They started on-reserve stores under the inherent laws of their nation rather than under provincial licensing, some by enacting cannabis laws through land codes.

Those models differ from the route chosen by the owners of the first fully licensed cannabis store on reserve, which is The Kure on the Skwah reserve.

“The ultimate goal is to codify and harmonize the laws and regulations among all three levels of government,” Gladstone underlined.

But months later they are stymied, with no timeline, feedback or any response from the provincial government on their application. So they’re stepping up the pressure.

“We are reaching out. If they don’t answer, it’s a direct way of saying they are not interested in working toward a government-to-government relationship. There’s just no other way to interpret this.”

The online forum next Wednesday will focus on solutions to bring inclusivity and diversity to the nascent cannabis sector with First Nations involvement.

They feel they’ve put in the work to give the province a workable model.

“Now all we ask is recognition for our inherent right to trade and barter,” Gladstone said.

Chief Gladstone tells a story of how cannabis has changed everything in his village and beyond.

In total more than 100 people are working in the on-reserve stores around the Chilliwack area.

“These workers are not on CERB or social assistance,” Gladstone said.

As of a couple of years ago there were only four people working in Shxwha:y village. Now there are 13 jobs being held down currently at the store, and another 30 at the cultivation facility, where All Nations Cannabis Corp. is a Health Canada licensed cultivator and licensed producer applicant.

“It’s changed the standard of living for many in our village, going from abject poverty to a tier closer to the middle class,” Gladstone said. “So this is a success story.

“What we’re saying to the province is: ‘Don’t destroy this miracle of economic revival.’

“We’re just asking for co-operation.”

READ MORE: Cannabis stores rolling through the pandemic

READ MORE: Chilliwack has unique approach to cannabis retail

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

cannabisIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langley Township Civic Facility. (Langley Advance Times files)
Housing, RCMP, Fort roads all discussed at Langley Township budget meeting

A Monday meeting touched on priorities for this year and beyond

East Maple Ridge resident Maureen Jeknavorian capture a few pictures of life along the Fraser River, while walking through Derby Reach Regional Park recently, including a tug hauling a load down west along the river. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Shoreline view shows action on the water

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Table for sale took a bit more work than first thought. (Mariana Aramburu/Special to The Star)
Ryan’s Regards: Clearing the clutter

Most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by this point in the year

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Cloverdale man said public pressure only convinces church goers they are right

Engageing churches in discussions on how to reduce transmission would be more effective than bans

When the pandemic forced the shut down of playgrounds in Langley this past Spring it sparked creativity for these Langley grandparents Herb and Cherri Kwan, who found themselves picking up a paint brush to help keep the local kids occupied. (Bernadette Amiscaray/Special to Langley Advance Times)
PHOTOS: Pandemic park closures spark artistic rock creations for retired Langley grandparents

Herb and Cherri Kwan started hiding painted rocks in Routley Park when playground closed

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

(Realtor.ca)
Rent dropped to 2019 rates across parts of Metro Vancouver in December: Rentals.ca report

Rent costs have declined since May, a trend expected to continue due in part to the COVID pandemic

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Most Read