All Nations Cannabis celebrated a soft opening Wednesday on Shxwhá:y Village as the first “farm-gate” cannabis retail store in the Lower Mainland.
It’s unique as a cannabis retail store located on Indigenous land with a 30,000 square-foot licensed production facility just down the road.
“This is a huge accomplishment and this is a momentous day,” said All Nations CEO Darwin Douglas.
All Nations Cannabis can now legally distribute its cannabis products under All Nations Mestiyexw Holdings, a holding company, as partners with Shxwhá:y Village (Skway First Nation), stemming from a provincial licensing agreement made directly with the First Nation on a “government to government” basis.
“The work that we’re doing here to create a business, and an economic base,” took a combination of efforts, Douglas said, from the people of Shxwhá:y, and other Indigenous communities, to their friends, staff, and those who worked together with them to reach this point.
“It really completes the business model we set out to accomplish.”
All Nations Cannabis, at 9433 Schweyey Road, had its licensing approved in July 2022 under Section 119 of the B.C. Cannabis Control and Licensing Act. It is one of six such Indigenous-led licences in the province.
“There’s a lot of people that actually made this happen. It took a lot of work on their part,” said Michelle Roberts, councillor at Shxwhá:y Village.
Patience was key.
“Even though three years sounds like a long time, what they accomplished in those three years is amazing. We’re here today to celebrate that. We’re just really proud of Shxwhá:y Village and All Nations for all their encouragement.”
The All Nations licensed production facility, FN Canna Cultivation and Production, is a sister company, that is less than a minute away on Schwehey Road near Chilliwack, producing strains like “Peanut Butter Breath” or “Modified Grapes” as well as “Mac Daddy” and “Stólō Haze.”
Shxwhá:y Chief Robert Gladstone said last summer that their Herculean effort to get licensed under Section 119 was all about participating in the cannabis economy and creating “hope” for his community, future generations and others.
He called it “reconciliation in action.”
Since shortly after cannabis legalization, they 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,” Gladstone told The Progress in 2020. There were only four people working in the Shxwha:y community at the time, but now there are more than 20 between the facility and the store.
The Shxwha:y application under Section 119 used the Williams Lake model, on the heels of opening on-reserve cannabis retail stores under the laws of the nation at first, after enacting cannabis laws through land codes.
The province launched a farm-gate sales program in 2022 with the idea of giving B.C. cannabis growers who have Health Canada authorization, like Shxwha:y Village, the ability to sell their products from “farm-gate” stores located or near a production site, as well as direct delivery options for small-scale producers.
“These programs support government’s commitment to the development of a robust, diverse and sustainable legal cannabis economy in B.C., inclusive of rural and Indigenous communities, while prioritizing health and safety,” provincial release said.
All Nations Cannabis officials say there are plans to open other stores across B.C. and Canada.
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