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

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Bill Reekie and his then-four-year-old granddaughter Lily. Photo contributed
Alzheimer’s – the Unplanned Journey

By Jocelyn Reekie Special to the Mirror “January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month… Continue reading

The Kwiakah First Nation is looking to lease some Crown land at the old Campbell River Gun Range to create a community garden for its members and a series of greenhouses to sell produce to cover operational costs. Black Press File Photo
Kwiakah First Nation looks to open farm at old Campbell River gun range

City defers decision on allowing it until they can consult with other local First Nations

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Shawn Decaire does a blessing ceremony for the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Hama?Elas Community Kitchen progress shared

Strategic planning, progress made on various projects also discussed at CRDCEH meeting

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

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

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

CSWM is planning to increase the space for loading bays at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre. Record file photo
Comox Strathcona Waste Management plans increase landfill bays

Campbell River facility also key part of capital planning in latest budget

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read