Article by Harold Calla, The Toronto Star
First Nation communities have taken giant steps to become self-reliant — and the next step leads into Canada’s emerging cannabis market. It’s time to consider how First Nations and other governments can enable economic development within a regulated market.
First Nations are ready. Many have developed institutions to implement property tax systems, ensure good governance, and facilitate borrowing.
Many now provide basic services, build public libraries and provide fire protection for residents and businesses through their own resources. Their authority to tax and invest arises from the 2006 First Nations Fiscal Management Act, a major step forward from the colonialist Indian Act.
The legalization and regulation of the cannabis market in Canada represents an opportunity that has monumental potential to create revenue for First Nations and employment for our young people.
On July 1, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Today, we reaffirm our government’s commitment to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, one based on the recognition of rights, respect, trust, co-operation and partnership.”
Ginette Pettipas Taylor, minister of Health and Jane Philpott, minister of Indigenous Services, signed a letter on June 6, 2018 committing the federal government to work with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities on developing a process to “facilitate” Indigenous participation in the cannabis market within “12 months of Royal Assent.”