Just upriver from downtown Montreal, the Kahnawake First Nation council office takes pride of place in the reserve’s modest skyline, along with a youth centre and a pair of churches.
Soon, however, these old edifices may all be dwarfed by a sprawling, state-of-the-art greenhouse sprouting with cannabis plants and buzzing with cultivators of Canada’s newest legal commodity.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake has signed a non-binding agreement with Canopy Growth Corp. The potential deal would see the First Nation host a 4,650-square-metre production facility, plus a processing and packaging space nearly half that size, in partnership with Canada’s largest cannabis company.
“We rely almost completely on outside government cash. We need a stable source of income so that we can then give it back to our people,” said Grand Chief Joe Norton, pointing to plans for enhanced park spaces, health and addictions treatment and a Mohawk language program.
Kahnawake is hardly alone. First Nations across the country are capitalizing on cannabis legalization — set for Oct. 17 — with plans for production plants, partnerships and investments. But the potential windfalls come with concerns around social fallout and clashes over jurisdiction.