The need for more cannabis means more business opportunities for First Nations and their people.
That is one of the many themes that will be discussed this week in Kelowna, where the third annual National Indigenous Cannabis & Hemp Conference is being held today, tomorrow and Thursday at Grand Okanagan Resort.
Wesley Sam, the former chief of Burns Lake Indian Band, will be part of a panel discussion on Wednesday. He will share insight about his transition from Burns Lake chief to co-founder of NATIONS, a cannabis production company that will be based in that community. The title of the session is called Building Community Value: Economic Development at Work.
“Young people are moving elsewhere, and as a former First Nations band chief and councillor, part of his drive is to create opportunities that are going to create jobs, create economic investment and perhaps give people an opportunity to come home,” NATIONS spokesman Kelly Gleeson said. “That’s what the motivation is.”
NATIONS is a late-stage applicant to to become a licensed producer, and its primary facility is nearing completion after breaking ground this past summer. Gleeson noted the forest industry is in the pits, mills are shutting down, and young First Nations residents are leaving communities.
Sam will discuss ways to bring those young people back.
“It’s important because it gives First Nations and other communities in other parts of the country as well as B.C. a chance to talk about what he sees as an opportunity that has the potential to reshape communities,” Gleeson said.
The conference gets underway tonight with a welcome reception at the Grand, followed by two days of panels, round tables and a trade show.
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