Cannabis was once believed to have the power to break apart communities, but now it has become a hopeful opportunity to build and strengthen First Nations communities across the province.
After winning permits to open cannabis stores in Warman, North Battleford and Yorkton, Synergy 5 Investments — which is a partnership between five First Nations in Saskatchewan — is excited to open shop and see the benefits start rolling in.
Stakeholders under the Synergy 5 Investments banners include, the Athabasca Development Limited Partnership, Des Nedhe Development, the Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies and the Prince Albert Development Corporation — which is the business arm of the Prince Albert Grand Council.
Sean Willy, the president and chairperson of Synergy 5 Investments, notes that these First Nation owned businesses are some of the most progressive in the country.
The retail stores will open under the banner 5Buds Cannabis near the end of 2017 and will focus on providing an elevated, modern, yet discreet retail experience for its customers says Corey Tyacke, the general manager of 5Buds Cannabis retail stores.
“We want something that has that friendly prairie dynamic, but yet still accentuates the cool trendiness that’s really been coming to Saskatchewan over the last few years,” he explained.
To accomplish this, the plan is to put a strong focus on hiring the right people with the right personalities to be on the retail floor. Tyacke says in a 5Buds Cannabis store you can expect to be helped by someone who not only looks polished but also knows their facts about the products available and effects to expect from the different cannabis strains available.
“Every team member needs to appreciate and value the fact that the customer chose us,” he said
Not only will the shops be carrying the cannabis flower, tinctures and gel caps, including CBD only options, they will also be offering a large — yet curated — variety of premium, top quality smoking and vaping accessories.
“It would be foolish to not carry the CBD (only) products,” Tyacke said. “Not everyone who is buying these products is looking for the euphoric effect that comes from the THC and CBD is definitely something that even non-medicinal people are looking for.”
But that’s not all, Tyacke says they also looking into the possibilities of stocking a number of educational books that fit within the cannabis world and possibly — if it is within the SLGA guidelines — even stocking cannabis cookbooks for those looking to experiment with making their own edible products at home.
As the shops slowly begin to open, Tyacke says he is expecting they will continue dealing with the stigma that has surrounded cannabis for decades. Though he says he is hopeful that by providing friendly, well-educated staff and maintaining strong relationships with the community that they can help put some minds at ease.
“Saskatchewan, we have so much open space and so much natural beauty and now we have this wonderful new natural product coming to market,” Tyacke said.
“And now us Saskatchewan people, who have this homegrown friendly approachable nature, get to put this in front of customers and sell it legally — it’s magical.”
Because the 5Buds Cannabis stores are under the Synergy 5 Investment banner, the shops will not only provide additional revenue that will be used within these First Nations communities — through dividends that will aid in maintaining community infrastructure and fund community services like elder and youth programming — the stores will also offer employment opportunities for the residents.
“It creates less dependence on government funding,” Willy explained. “One of our mandates is also to employ our people, because it offers another form of self determination so people don’t need to depend on social assistance.”
Willy notes that Synergy 5 Investments has a lot of experience in the retail sector, owning and running businesses from gas stations to hotels employing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers alike.
As the 5Buds Cannabis shops slowly open over the next few months — with the Warman location shaping up to be the first to open at the end of November — they are looking to maintain strong bonds with the communities while operating at the highest level possible
“We want to showcase that we are a Saskatchewan based entity,” Willy finished. “I’m a promoter of providing opportunities locally so I’m really excited about what this can bring to Saskatchewan.”