Former Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day urges leaders to support cannabis entrepreneurs on First Nations

A former Ontario Regional Chief is putting out a new magazine that he hopes clarifies jurisdictional issues around cannabis legalization and First Nations. Isadore Day is CEO of a company called Bimaadzwin that focuses on Indigenous nationhood.

Day is CEO of Bimaadzwin.ca where he explores jurisdictional issues of cannabis sales on First Nations

Isadore Day, a former Ontario Regional Chief, is CEO of Bimaadzwin (Markus Schwabe/CBC)


A former Ontario Regional Chief is putting out a new magazine that he hopes clarifies jurisdictional issues around cannabis legalization and First Nations.

Isadore Day is CEO of a company called Bimaadzwin that focuses on Indigenous nationhood.

The new online publication, called Growth and Prosperity, seems to reflect his optimism about the potential role of retail cannabis sales in Indigenous communities.

Day says the publication will work as a reference that covers areas left blank by governments that failed to include First Nations in designing a retail system to sell legal cannabis.

For instance, he says the federal government didn't consult with First Nations because the process was moving too fast and it wouldn't have been able to resolve issues by the time it wanted to introduce the laws.

And, technically, from a land tenure perspective, he says, First Nations are not lands within the province of Ontario, they are lands in federally-mandated jurisdiction.

He says the magazine covers policy gaps and how communities may respond to jurisdictional issues and support their own entrepreneurs.

"The magazine definitely will be a source of information to help identify and really put those provocative issues out there that will catch the attention of policy makers and people that, say, are in the industry on the business side, and legal experts," he says.

"Ultimately, I think the best case scenario is not leaving our entrepreneurs behind, and creating that space for them and I believe that's the obligation of community leadership," says Day.

Day's comments come as the Ontario Provincial Police announce the results of search warrants executed on cannabis storefronts and suspected storefronts on the Wahnapitae and Henvey Inlet First Nations. Several people are facing charges and hundreds of thousands dollars worth of product have been seized.

He says that is unfortunate and feels entrepreneurs need the support of community leaders to navigate the system in a positive way.

Day says rather than trying to curb retail cannabis activity, leaders should look at opportunities.

"How do we best ensure that First Nations become part of this industry in a way that the mainstream has been afforded those opportunities."

with files from Waubgeshig Rice