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

Vernon shops like Expressions of Time have shown their strength, resiliency and adaptability amid the COVID-19 crisis. (Facebook)
COLUMN: A toast to small businesses in Vernon

Show local business some love this Small Business Week

File Photo.
BOOMER TALK: Talking back

Columnist Carole Fawcett responds to feedback over ‘Are you Sheeple?’ column

The Brown Derby’s Mysterioso was one of three entries in the 2020 Armstrong Professional Grilled Cheese Sandwich competition held Tuesday, Oct. 20. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Bakery gets judges’ attention in Armstrong pro grilled cheese sandwich event

Country Bakery’s German Kase Pretzel Grilled Cheese oozes past Brown Derby, Wild Oak Café

A power outage caused by a vehicle crash affected 2,178 BC Hydro customers in Enderby Wednesday night, Oct. 21, 2020. (BC Hydro image)
Vehicle crash in Enderby knocks out power for more than 2,000

BC Hydro crews are expected to arrive by 6:30 p.m.

Ahead of the provincial election on Oct. 24, Enderby residents put their questions to the Shuswap riding’s three candidates: Greg Kyllo for the BC Liberal Party, Sylvia Lindgren for the BC NDP and Owen Madden for the BC Green Party. The candidates recorded their answers in videos distributed by the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce. (Salmon Arm Observer image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Shuswap candidates answer Enderby’s top election questions

The candidates submitted video responses for an all-candidates forum ahead of the Oct. 24 election

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is seen as she leaves media event during a campaign stop in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green leader hopes voters see value in minority government

The Greens received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote in 2017 yet received just three seats

Local candidates Pam Alexis, Abbotsford-Mission, and Preet Rai, Abbotsford-West, look on as NDP Leader John Horgan main streets in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. NDP takes snap election risk during pandemic in quest for majority government

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the election was unnecessary and irresponsible during the pandemic

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, B.C., on October 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Liberal Leader maintains confidence as campaign tests party identity

Liberal campaign has been disrupted by controversy

(Kelowna Capital News)
B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Two pigs roam the Salmon Arm Walmart parking lot during a prior visit photographed by Danielle Burgi. (Danielle Burgi photo)
Pigs trot over for a visit at Salmon Arm shopping centre

Employees say this was the second drop-in from the temporarily free-range porkers

Most Read