The Grand Chief of the Treaty #3 territory, Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh, is calling on the provincial government to include the Indigenous community in the sale of cannabis, and the decisions that surround it.

Kavanaugh says that the province’s decision to limit Ontario to only 25 retail locations has essentially ‘blocked’ northern First Nation communities from participating in the emerging cannabis market. That decision was made last month, as the province deals with cannabis supply and distribution concerns.

“We understand that the number of initial stores has been limited due to supply constraints. However, allocating just 2 initial licenses for the entire north – a region that takes up to 18 hours to traverse by car – is impractical for both economic and policy reasons,” said Kavanaugh, in an open letter.

The open letter has been sent to Ontario’s Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli, and Kenora Rainy – River MPP and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Greg Rickford.

“The stated objective of both the federal and provincial governments has been to implement a safe market for cannabis that fights the illegal market. That is simply not going to happen if no store or safe supply of cannabis products will be available in our communities, many of which are already struggling to eradicate the illicit drug trade.”

Physical marijuana stores will be awarded a licence to sell cannabis through a lottery system, and will only be awarded to communities with a population above 50,000, ending any notions of northwestern Ontario seeing a physical store open this April.

“I note that your approach stands in stark contrast to the framework of the previous government, which saw the emerging legal market for cannabis as an opportunity to economically empower First Nations people. In addition to government-run storefronts, the Liberals’ approach allowed the province to ‘enter into arrangements and agreements with a council of the [First Nation] band’ with respect to the sale of cannabis on reserve.”

Under former Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Liberals were aiming to open 40 government-owned cannabis stores on July 1, 2018 – before legalization was pushed back to October. By 2020, the Liberals said that they would have opened 150 stores. 

Kavanaugh noted that the provincial governments of Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia included favourable criteria in the licence selection process for Indigenous-owned or controlled participation.

He adds that he hopes the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario will create a special licencing allocation for First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario.

“Northern communities and First Nations were promised new economic opportunities under your government during the election. I respectfully request that those commitments be reflected in your approach to regulating participation in this new marketplace so that our communities can consider whether the cannabis industry should be part of their economic destiny.”

City councils in Kenora and Dryden have both approved allowing retail stores to open in the new year, however, neither community has a large enough population to be awarded a licence. Physical stores are set to open in April. 

For more information:
Province limiting number of pot stores

More Local News

Social housing in 2019 budget

Social housing is at the top of the list, as the district services board prepares their budget for 2019. Andrew Poirier is the director for the City of Kenora. "Like every other budget, I think,…

Ice shack vandals caught, charged

Two Kenora residents are facing charges for shooting multiple ice shacks in the area. Terry Roen, 24, and Austin Holmstrom, 18, are both facing multiple charges. The Kenora OPP say that on January 6,…

First phase of All Nations Hospital approved

The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care has given approval to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital and the Kenora Chiefs Advisory to move forward with the first phase of planning for the All…

Eikre honoured with Papal Blessing

Phyllis EikreIt was a real honour for the outgoing director of education at the Kenora Catholic District School Board. Last night, Phyllis Eikre received a Papal Blessing for her years of service…

Tax rates delayed

Kenora ratepayers will have to wait a bit longer, before this year's property tax rates are set. "You know, we did the review, and we're still not comfortable. There's still some issues we need to…

High-speed internet top new minister's list

High-speed internet is at the top of the list for the new federal minister for rural economic development. Kenora MP Bob Nault says Bernadette Jordan is willing to work with mayors and chiefs across…

New hydro bills coming for Kenora

Kenora Hydro customers will be noticing changes in how they're billed. Since the merger with Thunder Bay Hydro was approved by the Ontario Energy Board in November, the City of Kenora has been…

Safe beds to help clients, cops

Kenora residents dealing with a mental health crisis will soon have another option. The safe beds project is meant to divert people from either the hospital or police. Sara Dias from the Canadian…

Housing starts on the agenda, Nault

Housing starts are at the top of the list for Bob Nault. After talking with councillors in recent weeks, the member for Kenora offers an update. "They see housing as holding back their economic…

More hydro cuts coming, Rickford

Energy Minister Greg Rickford says relief is on its way for hydro customers. "We're hoping as early as this spring to start delivering on the substantial portion of the 12 per cent cut that we…

KenoraOnline.com is Kenora's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Login