B.C. Interior First Nation breaks ground on farm-to-gate cannabis cultivation facility

A groundbreaking ceremony for Sugar Cane Cannabis in Williams Lake was held Monday morning beside retail store Indigenous Bloom. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
During a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, June 22, Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars said it has been a long time coming to see provincial and federal governments stepping out and supporting projects like Sugar Cane Cannabis. “The magnitude of the funding agencies we’ve been able to pull together, the support from the province and the federal government on something that’s going to be the first of its kind is very exciting.” (Rebecca Dyok photo)

It was a momentous day for the Williams Lake First Nation, formerly known as the Williams Lake Indian Band, that broke ground on B.C.’s first farm-to-gate cannabis cultivation facility.

A ceremony was held under cloudy skies Monday morning on reserve lands within the city of Williams Lake for Sugar Cane Cannabis that will open in spring 2021.

“The project we’re here to break ground on is an exciting one and one that has been in the planning for more than a year and a half,” Kukpi7 (Chief )Willie Sellars told the crowd.

State-of-the-art, the 7,000-square-foot facility will allow customers to purchase high quality cannabis directly from the facility where it will be grown.

“It will be, to the best of our knowledge, the first such Indigenous-owned facility in Canada,” Sellars added, noting it will provide up to 20 new jobs.

Support for the $3 million-facility has come from a number of funding entities including $500,000 from the B.C. Government as well as $250,000 each from Indigenous Services Canada and Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT).

Read More: Williams Lake Indian Band receives $500,000 boost from province for cannabis operation

The remainder of the project will be funded directly by the Williams Lake First Nation through its own source revenues, Sellars said.

“Williams Lake First Nation is proud to be a business leader and the people of this town should also be proud that they are part of something that is special and unique.”

Saying she was wearing two hats, chair of NDIT and Cariboo Regional District Margo Wagner said the creation of the facility highlights the start to rebuilding the economy that has faced chaos as result of the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather, and adversely impacted by mill closures and wildfires.

“We know for many years that Indigenous people have faced obstacles to prosperity due to circumstances outside of their control,” Wagner said.

“A diverse local economy capitalizing on new opportunities with Indigenous businesses playing a key role can offer a way to address all of those concerns.”

Kukpi7 (Chief) Patrick Harry of Stswecem’c Xgat’tem (Canoe/Dog Creek) that is exploring a cannabis operation of its own congratulated the Williams Lake First Nation on the facility, as well as the name change.

Harry noted the great deal of trauma Indigenous peoples have experienced and said it was important to note the medicinal purposes of cannabis.

“When I look at Indigenous Bloom and I look at this new facility I see a really great opportunity to provide medicine to our people and to the Secwepemc people of Williams Lake First Nation and to the surrounding community here,” he said.

One representative from the City of Williams Lake was in attendance: Coun. Scott Nelson.

Read More: City to launch public survey about Williams Lake Indian Band cannabis cultivation facility

Sellars noted efforts to get the project off the ground have not been without challenges — the most significant he said being the relationship with the City.

He called Nelson’s attendance as a big step for the City and said it gave them hope the City and rest of city council will sit down with them so they can move forward in collaboration and partnership to do good for the region.

“In order for the Williams Lake First Nation to excel we also need the city of Williams Lake’s support,” Sellars said.

“We’re committed to Williams Lake First Nation members but we’re also committed to the betterment of the Cariboo Chilcotin.”

Sugar Cane Cannabis will be built in partnership with numerous local businesses and subcontractors including Lake Excavating and Lauren Bros Construction.

The interior of the retail space will be designed by Rena Johnson of The Rusty Bucket who has worked with the nation on a number of projects including their government office in downtown Williams Lake.

The facility’s architectural design will be co-ordinated by Genotype Innovations from Kelowna.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

cannabisFirst NationsWilliams Lake

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

It happened this week in 1913

July 5 - 11: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

RDEK approves grant for start-up costs towards Cranbrook curbside recycling

Cranbrook is another step closer towards a curbside recycling program following the… Continue reading

New tee pads installed at Wycliffe Disc Golf Course, new course built near Radium

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the East Kootenay Disc Golf Club… Continue reading

Farm life: Musings of summer

Summer is one of my favourite seasons for so many reasons. I… Continue reading

Ktunaxa elder leaves legacy of courage, resilience and mentorship

Herman Alpine helped Ktunaxa move on from Residential School era, was key in revitalization of language

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Budget officer pegs cost of basic income as calls for it grow due to COVID-19

Planned federal spending to date on pandemic-related aid now tops about $174 billion

Most Read