A member of the Okanagan Indian Band says the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (UNDRIP) passed by the British Columbia government means he does not need a British Columbia-issued license to use cannabis in his first nation’s traditional territory for sale.
Cory Brewer operates three stores, two on the band’s reservation north of Vernon and one in downtown Okanagan.
Last Thursday, the provincial Community Safety Unit asked the landlord of the downtown Brewer store to shut it down after searching the same store last June, confiscating all products and fined Brewer $ 100,000 for he does not have a cannabis license in the province.
However, the landlord has not closed the brewery. It still works without a license but doesn’t sell cannabis products. Instead, Brewer says he shows cannabis to educate the public about its health benefits.
Brewer says he has had no problem with either of his businesses in the reserve, where the band’s cannabis law applies.
In October 2019, BC became the first Canadian province to submit a bill to implement UNDRIP, which enshrines the right of indigenous peoples to pursue their economic development freely.
Regarding the sale of cannabis, the Senate Aboriginal Committee said in its May 2018 report that both the federal and provincial governments had not properly consulted the First Nations prior to legalizing the drug.
“They [the province] went and left First Nations from any type of consultation within the [Cannabis Control and Licensing] Act, “Brewer told Chris Walker, the host of CBC’s Daybreak South, on Tuesday.
“It has made it quite difficult for First Nations to actually do business outside of the reserve, so I took it upon myself – after the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in BC was tabled – to get out of the reserve and basically ours to assert. ” Rights in our area, our practice, our rights in our area. ”
Cory Brewer says he is working to allow First Nations companies to sell cannabis in their traditional territories without approval from the provincial government. (Tupas Joint / Facebook)
Brewer says he worked with the BC First Nations Assembly and other First Nations across Canada to ensure governments consult them on cannabis laws with the aim of allowing Indigenous members to do cannabis business outside of Canada To operate reserve land.
Yvan Guy Larocque, a Vancouver-based attorney who specializes in indigenous law and is not affiliated with Brewer, says indigenous self-determination rights as set out in UNDRIP are collective rights, not individual rights as Brewer suggests.
“We see in this situation a single First Nations person trying to rely on indigenous collective rights of self-determination in a commercial context,” Larocque said. “There [are] Rights in the Declaration which, if misinterpreted, can give indigenous people a false sense of security as they have more rights than other Canadian citizens in relation to economic development and business. “
Larocque said both federal and provincial governments are still struggling to work with First Nations to ensure that these collective rights apply to individual First Nations members.
BC’s Department of Public Safety declined to comment on specific cases, but said in an email to CBC News that Community Safety Unit officials have been actively working with unlicensed retailers across the province and have stepped up enforcement efforts .
Tap the link below to hear Cory Brewer’s interview Daybreak south::
Daybreak south8:18The owner of an indigenous cannabis shop in Vernon refuses to turn off the lights despite another raid on the province.