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First legal Indigenous cannabis shop Kana Leaf to open

From link to article by Kelly Anne Smith, Feb 25th 2020

NIPISSING FIRST NATION— Kana Leaf’s business partners are very excited to be Ontario’s first legal Indigenous cannabis shop. Kana Leaf is set to open at the end of February.

It’s a real family venture. All citizens of Nipissing First Nation, Curtis Avery, Carrie Avery, Gary Avery, Garnet Avery and Noreen Nichol are Kana Leaf partners.

There have been 12 people hired for the shop already, both part-time and full-time positions. Noreen says 80% of staff are Indigenous.

“We are happy to offer employment and create more jobs. We hope to do more hiring. We have to gauge things.”

Curtis explains that the family had been thinking of a group venture for a long time.

“The opportunity came and we figured if we didn’t do it, somebody else would. So, we started it.”

Noreen says the new building has been waiting for the right opportunity.

“When cannabis became legal, it was like a whole brand-new industry and we were all in.”

Curtis talks of the range of expertise of the Kana Leaf partners.

“Each one of us brings a different set of skills that work together. Some of us are good at [human resources] and some of us are great at construction and owning businesses and others are great at writing proposals and dealing with different parties, getting things to work.”

Garnet Avery is enthusiastic about the opening. Garnet says in the past, he would never have dreamt to be opening a cannabis store. He and wife Deborah Avery have business experience with Yelleck Self Storage and TPI Blue Sky Travel.

Nipissing First Nation has set the legal age for cannabis use at 21 years of age and proper identification will be required when shopping Kana Leaf.

Safety is a priority says Curtis.

“The safety aspect is a huge reason why we want regulated product. We want to know where it’s coming from, what’s in it, and how it’s manufactured. Those answers are super important. We have a one-stop shop for that.”

There will be a variety of product to choose from. Customers will be able to see a sample up close with a magnifying glass on the clear container and remove the sniffer shield for a whiff.

Curtis says the thing about product is all about how fast you can get it.

“People want service and a product and to be able to go get it, having access to it right away.”

The business has passed the final inspection after ensuring a multitude of regulatory measures have been put in place. Noreen says the partners are aiming for the end of the month for the opening of Kana Leaf.

“We are waiting for our store authorization. We are hoping we get that early next week. That’s our ‘for sure’ that we proceed with the 29th.”

Noreen points out the art adorning the walls are all by artist Brian Waboose of Whitefish River First Nation.

“We wanted to have the modern look with the cultural feel and nice and bright. It’s really important to have natural light.”

Situated in the Bineshii Small Business Park on Osprey Miikan, their exposure on Hwy 17 is a plus says Noreen.

“There’s a lot of traffic on this highway. We know word is out there. We’ve been told there is a lot of excitement,” she says. “We are really excited to open our doors to the community, Nipissing First Nation and North Bay and area, and for being the very first First Nation in Ontario to have a legally licensed establishment. We are very excited about that!”

Kana Leaf will be open seven days a week from 9:30 am to 10 pm.

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