The Songhees First Nation is getting into the cannabis business.
Victoria city council has approved plans for the Songhees and partner Vikram Sachdeva to move forward with plans to open two cannabis retail stores in downtown Victoria — at 901 Gordon St. and another in The Bay Centre.
“We thank council and the community for their confidence and support of our Nation’s desire to participate once again in the economies of our Lekwungen homelands as equals,” Songhees Chief Ron Sam said in a statement. “Having a share in the lucrative cannabis market has tremendous upside potential for our community.”
The stores will open under a brand called Seed and Stone. The First Nation said licensing applications for both locations are in progress with the provincial government, but work will start on both stores immediately in preparation for a spring opening.
Sachdeva will be an owner-operator of Seed and Stone. He owns several Subway sandwich stores and has a licensed cannabis store in Chilliwack with other locations under development on the Lower Mainland.
“We met Vikram through an existing, trusted relationship and discovered a strong alignment of values and business goals,” Sam said. “His record of corporate citizenship and regulatory compliance speaks to some of the many strengths that he brings to our partnership.”
A statement from the Songhees Nation said Seed and Stone stores will focus on education and specific design elements.
The Bay Centre store will “honour the natural world in a sophisticated, urban context.” The Gordon Street location will align its presence with the growth of Indigenous tourism. Seed and Stone will also offer a gallery-quality, cultural showcase of Indigenous art and cultural pieces, many of them available for purchase.
Tseshaht First Nation artist Connie Watts, the interior designer for the Songhees Wellness Centre, will guide the Indigenous design for the Gordon Street store.
Sam said the stores will be good for the First Nation. “Speaking as a father, uncle and mentor to our young people, the regulation of cannabis brings greater opportunities for education and informed decision making,” he said.
“These are key components to harm reduction which is very important to me and to Songhees members. Knowing more about cannabis and having assurances about where it was grown and what it contains is critical knowledge for me as a Songhees member, and as a citizen of this region.”
He said Songhees members have interest in the jobs and training opportunities that will result from this project. “Our Nation is encouraged by the potential to realize profit that will generate income and create other opportunities that continue to move us forward.”
The Songhees have also built a cannabis store at 1502 Admirals Rd. and are awaiting a provincial licence.