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

Just Posted

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Women stage protest outside town hall to preserve Glenview Park

Two Princeton women spent several days, over the past two weeks, protesting… Continue reading

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Kelowna COVID-19 cluster identified after private parties

Risks ‘considerably higher’ while attending private events, said Health Minster Adrian Dix

Use of safety flares prompt search on Shuswap Lake

Marine search and rescue crew finds boat unoccupied, no one in distress

Foul play not currently suspected in death of man found near Sicamous

Body found in woods near vehicle linked Edmonton Police Service investigation of suspicious death

Drive-by shooting in Kamloops

This is the second drive-by shooting in the city in the last two weeks

Revelstoke RCMP searching Columbia River for possible body

Boats and aircrafts are searching the area

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Vernon Mounties share video of cyclist hit by vehicle, assaulted

Police release short video clip of cyclist struck by SUV in March 2020, and photos of suspects

Most Read