On the biggest day of the year for cannabis users, the Songhees Nation had its first retail store open in the community.
The Songhees Cannabis S + S store held a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Rd. location on April 20.
“Having this cannabis store here gives out people an option to shop and support our community, support our members, support our economic success here in our community.” said Songhees Nation chief Ron Sam.
He said it’s the start of the community taking economic advantage of the emerging cannabis market.
“We’ll just continue to look at it as the market evolves and continues, whether that’s production or more stores,” Sam said. “This being our flagship store on the reserve is the start of it.”
Walking through the store on Tuesday, Sam was happy to see members he’s known for their whole lives now working at the store.
“Creating opportunity for our people, that’s what it’s about,” Sam said. “It’s about our membership, again, getting to work in an emerging industry.”
Songhees partnered with the Seed and Stone cannabis company to open the new store.
Chris Grzywacz, Seed and Stone’s development agent, said the store will be selling regulated recreational THC and CBD products, vape items, edibles, cannabis-infused drinks and all sorts of cannabis-use accessories. He said the store’s staff will be able to walk customers through the different cannabis strains and products.
“We get to understand what the needs are of each customer,” Grzywacz said.
The storefront windows feature the work of Jessica Joseph, a Songhees artist and community member. The art depicts a whale and eagle – representing the heart and mind respectively – which are images Joseph grew up seeing all around her.
“It’s like a constant visual representation of our nation, seen in our logo, being present and showing that, even to tourists, that we’re still present in this territory,” she said. “We’re residents, we’re stewards of this land and we want to showcase that.”
She wanted the art to convey cannabis use’s spiritual aspects of respect and honouring others.
“It creates this image where you’re able to feel safe and protected,” Joseph said.
“It was very important for us to highlight the art of our Lekwungen artists,” said Chistina Clarke, Songhees Nations’ corporate executive officer.
As some people were enjoying their lunch from a food truck parked at the store, Sam said he looks forward to having another space where community members can gather once it’s safe to do so post-pandemic.