The Tseshaht First Nation in Port Alberni is now operating B.C.'s first licensed cannabis store owned by a First Nation.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling,” says Tseshaht council member Ken Watts. “We are planting a seed and we are doing one of the first things here in the province.”
Named after Port Alberni's historic orange bridge – now painted grey – Orange Bridge Cannabis is located at the Tseshaht Market.
Watts says the store employs five band members and will bring in much needed revenue to the region.
The process took over a year to get licensed and the store opened Wednesday, the same day as the province opened its third store on island, just eight kilometres away.
The nation says it wrote a letter to the province asking it not to open a store in Port Alberni.
“It’s unfortunate they’re opening it,” says Watts. “I’m hoping the public will go local and buy local and here’s an opportunity to support local businesses."
Prices at Orange Bridge Cannabis will be similar to government stores because its products are purchased through the province's liquor and cannabis distribution branch.
Tseshaht’s ultimate goal is to cultivate the region's own product and for Orange Bridge Cannabis to become a brand.