INDIGENOUS BUSINESS – Cannabis and climate change were just two of the urgent topics explored at this week’s sold-out First Nations Economic Advancement Conference (FNEAC). There are almost limitless long-term economic opportunities for First Nations in both the In both the cannabis industry and combating climate change.
Isadore Day, founder and CEO of Bimaadzwin, moderated both the cannabis and climate change panels. An electronic survey conducted following the cannabis panel showed the majority of First Nation economic development officers in attendance stated their communities are currently involved or are open to partnering with established cannabis companies.
“The growing interest of First Nation participation in the cannabis industry is partly driven by the fact that our own Peoples are now involved in establishing their own companies,” said Day. “First Nations are also actively involved in the cannabis investment side of the industry. Mainstream cannabis companies and investors now realize there is much potential for First Nation control of a significant portion of the market once cannabis becomes legal next month.”
The Canadian Securities Exchange, which attended the FNEAC, reported that it has outperformed the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) since late last year as a result of increased investment in cannabis companies that focus not only on recreational use but medical, health and wellness aspects. Companies such as Long North Capital are focused on exclusively raising investment funds for First Nation communities.
“In terms of climate change, we’ve seen a huge number of wildfires from northern BC to northern Ontario. In fact, as of this week, there are still 180 out of control forest fires across the country,” said Day. “Our Peoples must be front and centre, not only in combating fires, but ensuring that Canada and the world acts now to end global warming before it’s too late. The number one solution is reducing greenhouse gas by ending our reliance on the oil industry.
The climate change panel featured Dr. David Pearson of Laurentian University, who co-chaired the Ontario Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaption. He is currently working with First Nation communities in the far north who are assessing the impacts of climate change. Dr. Adriaan Davidse presented on long-term solutions such as renewable energy integration systems that are analogous to the underground network of roots that sustain the plants and trees in a forest.
“We need to de-construct and restructure how the world produces energy,” said Day. “Canada cannot do this alone. First Nations cannot play their small – albeit significant role without a large and substantial investment in technologies that will begin to reverse climate change. We must have a First Nation-driven summit to examine all the solutions – current and future – in the coming months. Time is running out to preserve the planet for our children and future generations. Economic development alone will not resolve our issues – we must have quality of living prosperity.”