‘A good day’: First cannabis store opens on ur­ban re­serve

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - GLEN DAWKINS

The first le­gal recre­ational cannabis store on a Win­nipeg ur­ban re­serve be­gan op­er­a­tion Fri­day with the open­ing of a Meta Cannabis Sup­ply Co. re­tail out­let at the Long Plain Madi­son Re­serve at 420 Madi­son St. near Polo Park.

“It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing,” said store man­ager Heather Pel­letier Fri­day fol­low­ing the of­fi­cial open­ing. “I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing su­per-busy and get­ting a lot of cus­tomers from the com­mu­nity. I think we’re go­ing to do very well.”

This is the third First Nations re­tail store launched with Na­tional Ac­cess Cannabis, the sec­ond with Long Plain First Na­tion and the fifth Meta store in the prov­ince. It will be staffed by Long Plain mem­bers who have been trained us­ing NAC’S pro­pri­etary model to en­sure safe, se­cure and re­spon­si­ble dis­tri­bu­tion of le­gal cannabis, Long Plain lead­ers said.

“There are a lot of good eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects in the works for Long Plain,” said Long Plain Chief Den­nis Meeches. “Open­ing up our sec­ond Meta store is re­ally I think a good day for Long Plain.”

The cannabis store is owned by Long Plain and Na­tional Ac­cess Cannabis in part­ner­ship with Opaskwayak Cree Na­tion and de­vel­oped by Ar­row­head De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment arm of Long Plain. The Win­nipeg ur­ban re­serve has been in op­er­a­tion since 2013 and in­cludes a Petro Canada gas sta­tion.

“Our even­tual plan is to open up a ho­tel/con­ven­tion cen­tre/com­mer­cial com­plex which would be on this site,” said Meeches.

“These are a great op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate wealth for the First Na­tion but there are also eco­nomic spinoffs to the town or mu­nic­i­pal­ity they are lo­cated in,” said Opaskwayak Cree Na­tion Onekanew (Chief) and NAC board mem­ber Chris­tian Sin­clair. “So it be­comes a win-win-win sit­u­a­tion for the First Na­tion, for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and for em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers who come to the stores and fre­quent them.”

Cindy Al­lard, the man­ager of the ur­ban re­serve, was the first cus­tomer, mak­ing her pur­chase shortly af­ter the noon of­fi­cial open­ing.

Open to all mem­bers of the com­mu­nity, the store is ex­pected to em­ploy 14 peo­ple, the same num­ber who work in the Long

Plain’s Keese­keemaquah ur­ban re­serve just out­side of Portage, Meeches said. An­other 45 work at the Petro Canada gas sta­tion.

“Can you imag­ine when we build the new ho­tel and con­ven­tion cen­tre com­plex here, how many peo­ple we’re go­ing to be able to em­ploy?," he asked.

“The (Ar­row­head) De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion’s man­date is to cre­ate em­ploy­ment and revenue for the First Na­tion,” said

Tim Daniels, Ar­row­head’s CEO. “We’re diver­si­fy­ing our ex­ist­ing busi­nesses. We’re into gam­ing, gas sta­tions, con­fer­enc­ing and land but this is a brand new in­dus­try that we’re in and we’re look­ing for­ward to pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment and also pro­vid­ing a prod­uct.”

Long Plain is lo­cated 14 km south­west of Portage La Prairie, and 98 kilo­me­ters west of Win­nipeg, just south of the Tran­scanada High­way.

GLEN DAWKINS/WIN­NIPEG SUN PHO­TOS

Man­ager Heather Pel­letier, cen­tre, cuts the rib­bon to of­fi­cially open the first le­gal recre­ational cannabis store on a Win­nipeg ur­ban re­serve yesterday.

Staff get set up for the of­fi­cial open­ing of the cannabis store at 420 Madi­son St.

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