Cannabis plants visible under bright lights inside a large facility at Shxwha:y Village on July 6, 2018. The reserve was home to the licensed producer for Indigenous Bloom, which opened up a dispensary on the Kwaw-Kwaw-Apilt reserve. On April 12, 2021, Shxwha:y announced Health Canada approval for a licensed production facility at the village. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Cannabis plants visible under bright lights inside a large facility at Shxwha:y Village on July 6, 2018. The reserve was home to the licensed producer for Indigenous Bloom, which opened up a dispensary on the Kwaw-Kwaw-Apilt reserve. On April 12, 2021, Shxwha:y announced Health Canada approval for a licensed production facility at the village. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Chilliwack’s Shxwha:y First Nation approved for cannabis cultivation and processing facility

It will be the first majority-owned Indigenous on-reserve licensed facility in Western Canada

Chilliwack will soon be home to a state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation and processing facility.

The 30,000 square foot project, with licensing just approved by Health Canada, will be built and owned by the Shxwha:y First Nation, an Indigenous community with a small population on the northwest side of Chilliwack.

It’s a historic moment, representing the first Health Canada approval of a majority owned Indigenous on-reserve licensed facility in Western Canada. Only four have been authorized across the entire country under the Cannabis Act, out of more than 600 approvals.

“Our investments in our people, processes and partnerships have facilitated this most exciting regulatory milestone,” said Shxwha:y Chief Robert Gladstone. “This is about advancing economic development on-reserve, maximizing returns on our traditional lands, and ensuring meaningful employment opportunities for our members and communities for years to come.

“We are set to start production immediately, utilizing leading technology, with the care and commitment to quality from top to bottom.”

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

RELATED: Chilliwack First Nations get into growing, selling marijuana before legalization

Once active, the facility will produce 4,000 kilograms of cannabis products year round. Those products will be distributed locally, nationally and internationally.

Chief Gladstone worked closely with the federal government on the way to this moment and said that collaboration will continue. He hopes this achievement motivates other Indigenous leaders to pursue similar opportunities.

All Nations Cannabis Consulting, a group of Indigenous business leaders looking to foster sustainable economic development opportunities through the Cannabis sector on-reserve, supported this landmark.

“Creativity, traditions and technology align together at All Nations,” said All Nations CEO Darwin Douglas. “We are guided by history, informed by technology and focused on Indigenous people’s prosperity. This is an exciting and momentous achievement for Indigenous led businesses in Canada.”

The All Nations group continues discussions with BC’s provincial government on retail distribution agreements consistent with the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act. Chief Gladstone and his team will begin work on securing sales authority on the licence shortly.

“We have established a foundation for cooperation with the federal government,” he said. “The work to build sustainable business ventures on-reserve is a real step towards reconciliation. This effort continues.”


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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