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Open letter from Derek Roque on Cannabis as an Economic Opportunity

Posted in Cannabis Referendum

RE: Community Decision on Cannabis as an Economic Opportunity 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Dear Wahnapitae First Nation Members:

On June 29th 2019 as community members we will be called to make a decision on whether or not to support cannabis as a part of economic development in Wahnapitae First Nation.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge our leadership, our staff and management, and everyone who is taking the time to have their say – this is an important decision that will affect our community for years to come.

As you know, the use, cultivation, production, and sale of cannabis has been legal in Canada since October 17th 2019. The problem with both federal and provincial laws and how they were developed – we were not engaged, considered, or recognized for First Nation rights and jurisdiction. This decision will be important to make sure that we can finally get to a point where our community interests and opportunities are considered. 

Secondly, As a business who has taken initiative to proceed – I would like to also acknowledge that the support that we have received and the concerns that have been raised are all appreciated. We are in agreement on making sure that we consider: 

Community Wellbeing and Safety

The importance of safety is everyone’s concern – our company works to continue to develop safety measures and precautions that protect youth, the consumer and the community from adverse impacts of cannabis with proper packaging, information and details about use of products. We are also mindful of traffic issues and operating motor vehicles under the influence of cannabis is the same as using a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol – its illegal, unsafe and should not be tolerated. We assure the community we are always educating and respectfully cautioning customers about the priority of safety for our community. We are also making certain that testing and providing products that are safe is a #1 priority for our company, community and most of all – the customer. Your vote to move ahead will allow the Community, the Leadership, the First Nation staff and community business to work together to make safety a #1 priority.

Community Benefits and Prosperity

The right to benefit from the cannabis industry should not just belong to the Non-Indigenous community. This is another reason why your vote is important. Creating employment, training opportunity and career development in the cannabis sector is one of the biggest opportunities of our times. If we make the right decision and give Chief and Council the direction to proceed – we will have one of the most important building blocks for shattering poverty in the community, that we have ever witnessed in our time. If you provide the first step to agree to cannabis business in Wahnapitae First Nation, we can begin to work with leadership in a transparent way – everyone supporting a way for the entire community to benefit. Your vote will clear the path to making sure everyone has access to the benefits and also a way to deal with one of the most challenging issues of our time – poverty.

Community Jurisdiction and Authority

The understanding that we are Sovereign people with authority and rights, on or off reserve, should always be something we believe in. Our community has a history of asserting economic rights and benefiting from business. Cannabis should be a the same as any other business – we must recognize that right. We must also recognize that our responsibilities and community laws must be the overall governance of how we do things. Whether its environment, economy, infrastructure, social issues, and political authority – we as community members must always support and direct our leaders based on our jurisdiction. This vote is an important step that will correct the lack of consultation that Ontario and Canada have left us to deal with. 

Community Spirit and Vision

The test of any community is to build each other up and to contribute to Community Spirit and Vision. We all want to have happy, healthy and strong families – that’s what makes a Nation. Wahnapitae First Nation is a community that has been against many things that appear to be bigger and more powerful than us – but we’ve always prevailed – because our members have always supported our collective interests. We have often done this through economic empowerment. The potential for us to take the cannabis industry and create a space for our Nation will be something that our Young People can and will most likely be proud of because it will change lives for the better. This vote is an opportunity to make our community stronger and economically successful. 

Miigwetch, Derek Roque – Community Member 

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