Article by CBC News
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has announced who can apply to operate cannabis stores in First Nations in Ontario.
Wiikwemkoong, Serpent River, Chapleau Cree, Couchiching, Mississauga, Wahgoshig, and Nipissing First Nations were all successful in their applications, as was the Shawanaga First Nation, just north of Parry Sound.
But Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod said despite the council’s support of the applicant, Zachary Lacelle, there are still no formal agreements worked out with the federal government over jurisdiction.
“You know we support the individual but we don’t necessarily support the idea that the province has jurisdiction in our First Nation lands,” McLeod said. “So we’re still pursuing the avenue of working out a bilateral agreement with the federal government so we can maintain jurisdiction and the creation of laws in our land.”
McLeod said the council wanted to ensure that people still had access to a legal supply of cannabis.
“We have not been able to access a safe legal supply of cannabis because we were left out of the federal legislation,” McLeod said. “[But] we didn’t want to stand in the way of our individuals who wanted to partake in this economic opportunity.”
The applicant still had to get support from the band office before completing the provincial application package. Still, McLeod said the band is regarding the license as a “interim agreement” until a deal is hammered out with the federal government.
“This is something that we feel that should have been done previous to the roll out of the retail stores and it just really shines a light on how the federal and provincial governments don’t include First Nations in developing these things,” he said.
“On one hand we have the federal government knocking on our door asking us to sign framework agreements on governance, and then the next minute they’re developing this legislation without our input,” McLeod added.
“They want to allow us to have more authority and jurisdiction which is rightfully ours and moving us out of the Indian Act, but at the same time doing things behind closed doors that doesn’t include us and just leaves us left out of the economy again.”