Treaty No.7 (Calgary, AB.) – The first ever National Indigenous Cannabis and Hemp Conference at Tsuut’inaNation attracted approximately 500 participants and resulted in a common goal of working together to stake claim in the growing need of Cannabis and Hemp.
“The issue of jurisdiction is the overwhelming priority coming out of this conference. Asserting our jurisdiction in the cannabis and hemp industry must be respected by mainstream industry and at all levels of government,” said Chief Isadore Day, who chaired the conference. “Economic sovereignty, health and safety, and community risk and impacts are the main themes we heard. Most importantly, we heard there is a growing interest in establishing a national network of Indigenous producers and retailers in order to compete with the larger multi-billion dollar cannabis companies.”
The common themes that emerged from the three-day conference and trade show were, Indigenous Peoples must work together with both government and industry in order to secure a considerable share in Canada’s newest multi-billion dollar industry.
Representatives from Health Canada and Indigenous Affairs were also in attendance and presented at the conference. The federal government seems willing to support First Nations participation in the industry, while at the same time respecting jurisdiction.
“Elders have long talked about cannabis being the medicine that will help. We must maintain our symbiotic relationship that this medicinal plant offers and all other Indigenous medicines. There has to be balanced as we move forward. If the only driver is economic development then it becomes the drug of addiction and the people will be foreign to the help that this medicine provides. We must move forward with our fundamental beliefs in mind so our Peoples and others will benefit from the healing aspects of this medicinal plant,” said Chief Lee Crowchild, of the Tsuut’ina Nation.
“The legalization of cannabis has created an enormous opportunity for Indigenous Peoples. The challenge we face now is that time is running out. Our Peoples need reassurance that we can still be major contributors to this new economy so everyone can benefit. We are eager to continue our focus and momentum that has been created by our communities, cannabis experts and business developers,” concluded Chief Day.
In order to follow-up on the pressing issues and themes that emerged during this past week, the second National Indigenous Cannabis and Hemp Conference will be held in Ottawa, Ontario on February 19-21,2019.