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Nawash Wants Review on Local Cannabis Company

From link to article by Megan Johnson, July 19 2019

Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation is taking steps to ensure that a cannabis project operated by Wiisag does not go forward without proper consultation, legal land leases and an environmental review. 

Wiisag Corporation CEO Joel Strickland says development started in May after receiving their Confirmation of Readiness from Health Canada for an outdoor facility that was projected to grow 19,500 plants, says it’s CEO Joel Strickland.

Strickland says Wiisag wants to be a company that is known to be ecologically sustainable.

“We’ve got a team of very experiences growers, we’ve got very experienced farming capability with credentials,” adding they’re environmentally responsible.

“We’re using all natural highly, highly, regarded amendments for the soil and actually implementing a creative planting model where the clones that we’re going to receive are going into 30 gallon bags and the bags will be the soil.. we’re not even directly putting them into the ground.”

A media release from Nawash points out, “concerns about the project have escalated in recent weeks as the Chief and Council and community members raised questions about the company not having a legal land lease to be carrying on its business on the Nawash reserve, since it was not approved by Nawash.”

Nawash Council then passed a by-law temporarily restricting cannabis industry on reserve in order to provide opportunity for the Chief and Council to study the effects of cannabis production and sale on reserve. The by-law was subsequently amended on July 11, 2019 to clarify that it only applies to commercial operations.

“The Chief and Council of Nawash say they are not opposed to all cannabis-related businesses on the reserve, but they are concerned about this particular operation for environmental and other reasons,” the release reads.

Chief Greg Nadjiwon, says council was surprised Health Canada would consider licensing a company that doesn’t even have a valid land lease. He adds, Chief and Council say they were not consulted prior to Wiisag submitting their application to Health Canada.

“Throughout this process, we kept reminding Health Canada and Wiisag that Nawash needs to be properly consulted about projects that affect our rights and that occur on our reserve lands.”

According to Nawash, Wiisag restarted construction on July 8, 2019 which they say is in contravention of the by-law.

In a July 8 interview, Strickland says the actions by the band have really brought up a lot of questions. “We were going to be a substantial employer…in terms of a private enterprise.”

He says they want to figure it out with Chief, Council and Health Canada.
“We’re a willing compromiser…and, of course there were conversations consistently” explains Strickland, adding they were “blindsided by all of this”.

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