Initially published in www.shopportagelaprairie.com
Mickey Dumont/The Portage Citizen: Oct. 19, the day marijuana was legalized in Canada, came and went without fanfare in Portage la Prairie, but at high noon on Nov. 9, the fanfare came to town with the Long Plain First Nation opening of the META Cannabis Supply Company at the “Keesh”.
The META Cannabis Supply Company opening was about a lot more than being able to purchase legal marijuana locally, it also represents a new leger page in First Nations economic development here.
Located at 79 Keeshkeemaquah Drive, it is the third META outlet in Manitoba opened in partnership between First Nations and National Access Cannabis.
Indica, Sativa and hybrid marijuana strains with store names of Alien Dog, Northern Lights Haze and Great White Shark by Royal High began moving off shelves after Arrowhead Development Corp. CEO Tim Daniels made the first purchase.
“We would have loved to be here on day one (Oct. 19), but here we are,” the jubilant First Nations business leader said.
Long Plain First Nations Chief Dennis Meeches is looking forward to opening its second location at 420 Madison in Winnipeg if a few weeks.
“It’s quite possible down the road we will open a third location at Long Plain itself. We’re excited about the employment opportunities, the revenue this will generate and the reinvestment into more economic development.”
In many ways, Long Plain is booming and may possibly be setting the bar for First Nations economic development. “I think we’re right up there, OCN (Opaskwayak Cree Nation) is doing very well. Long Plain has a strong economic vision and we want to continue on our strategy with job growth and creating new companies in our game plan,” the chief said.
The new marijuana store (dispensary) is right beside Long Plain’s hotel construction site. The band is waiting for architectural design documents on a new truck stop and if rumours prove to be true, there is a possibility the First Nation will become involved in marijuana cultivation.
What is true is a major announcement is expected within 30 days.
“It’s quite possible we may get into cannabis cultivation,” Meeches said. “That decision hasn’t been finalized by council, but we are strongly looking at that opportunity. That announcement may not come in 30 days, but we will try to make the announcement one way or another by March.”
The buzz surrounding a possible cannabis cultivation operation includes talk of it being located either at Long Plain or Keeshkeemaquah reserve.
Winnipeg opportunities are dizzying in scope for Long Plain and partners.
The groundwork has been laid for a “world-class” development to be built on the former grounds of the Kapyong barracks. The three-acre Madison urban reserve located near Polo Park shopping complex in Winnipeg represents another platinum level portfolio stuffer. The Madison urban reserve is bounded by St. Matthews Ave. on the north, Madison St. on the west, Silver Ave. on the south and Kensington St. on the east.
“We have to make some major decisions on business opportunities,” Meeches said. “We do have a substantial amount of capital financing in place to move our businesses forward.”
The META Cannabis Supply Company at the “Keesh” means about 14 new jobs for Long Plain.