Millbrook First Nation – Since the legalization of marijuana in Nova Scotia in 2018 several entrepreneurs in our community opened up shops as dispensaries and started selling cannabis products.
Recently the RCMP raided and shut down three stores and removed two of them stating concerns and complaints of proximity to where youth and children are.
There are similarities between the efforts of DFO to shut down our moderate livelihood fisheries and the actions of the RCMP.
The shops and dispensaries are operating under our 1752 treaty rights, which state in part:
It is agreed that the said Tribe of Indians shall not be hindered from, but have free liberty of Hunting and Fishing as usual and that if they shall think a Truck house needful at the River Chibenaccadie, or any other place of their resort they shall have the same built and proper Merchandize, lodged therein to be exchanged for what the Indians shall have to dispose of and that in the mean time the Indians shall have free liberty to being to Sale to Halifax or any other Settlement within this Province, Skins, feathers, fowl, fish or any other thing they shall have to sell, where they shall have liberty to dispose thereof to the best Advantage.
These stores have been in conflict with our band for various reasons, mostly based on the operation of these stores independently without any band help. The band itself invested $5 million in Zenabis Global Inc. in 2018, but that has not yet paid any dividends.
The shops in Millbrook have provided many jobs to the community and helped take people off welfare. These people now have a secure means of financial independence for their families.
These stores have also given freely to the community, at Christmas time as well as many other times, giving out donations to just lend a hand up. The stores are not required to do this and many community members appreciate the generosity of these store owners.
The concerns mentioned by the RCMP seem far-fetched as the stores have been operating since 2018, and the owners have wanted to work with our band in terms of product safety and other concerns since they opened.
All this is creating a huge divide within our own people and our own community. The owners feel they have no voice for advocating except themselves and many outraged band members who take to social media.
Hopefully this issue gets resolved soon in the interest of all involved, as our next election is in nine months. I fully support the independent store owners as they struggle to use our 1752 rights. Our band is also in the process of developing its own moderate livelihood agreement, which should include a firm stand that independent store owners can make a living as they see fit.