1st Indigenous-owned liquor store in Sask. opens near Saskatoon

·2 min read

The first Indigenous-owned liquor store in Saskatchewan has opened near Saskatoon.

The Patch Wine and Spirits is located on the English River First Nation urban reserve in the Grasswood community, just south of the city. The store officially opened on Monday.

"I'm really excited about this," said Jason Allen, director of retail for the Des Nedhe Group — English River's economic development body.

"This is kind of something that I've been wanting to expand — the retail division — for English River, and I believe it's a great opportunity."

The store will include a section dedicated entirely to Indigenous-made beer, wine and spirits from around the country, along with an Indigenous art installation.

"I do want to create a uniqueness to the store as opposed to other liquor stores that you might go into. I do want to promote Indigenous businesses that are involved in the liquor industry," Allen said.

Why a liquor store?

The decision to open a liquor store was based on two things, Allen said: a lack of other liquor stores in the area, along with an opportunity for economic growth.

He said the store currently has about 15 employees, but he hopes it will provide more jobs and opportunities for advancement as time goes on.

It will also provide additional revenue for the English River First Nation.

"The generated profit from this business entity goes back to the community [so] that they can improve the welfare of the community members themselves," Allen said.

There have been some concerns from the community, Allen said, since alcohol addiction is a problem in some Indigenous communities and the store is Indigenous-owned.

"People are still going to buy liquor, status or non-status," he said.

"It's not that I'm trying to promote drinking. People that drink are already drinking, so from this standpoint, it was more of something that was going to possibly produce more profit."

Allen also noted that the store is located just outside of the province's largest city and away from Indigenous communities that may be experiencing problems with alcohol.