Cannabis dispensary gives back to community

·3 min read

John Cree, a retired Kanehsata’kehró:non, grows corn, beans, squash, and other traditional foods on the land he inherited from his grandfather. He grows and uses traditional medicines, too.

This year, he had a problem. He had to plough his fields, but his tractor was broken. Fortunately, he was nominated by someone - his granddaughter, he thinks - to receive help to fix it from The Medicine Box Foundation, a year-old initiative by the Kanesatake cannabis dispensary.

“I wouldn’t have been able to put a garden in if they didn’t give me a hand,” said Cree. “It was nice of them.”

Last October, The Medicine Box first announced its desire to give back to the community in Kanesatake, posting on its Facebook page that it was accepting nominations from people in need or their family members. Ever since, it has donated up to $2,000 monthly - $500 per recipient - all of which comes from the store’s sales.

The initiative has evolved since then, now targeting different segments of the community each month in hopes of attracting more nominations. In April, for instance, the store asked for nominations for students and teachers in recognition of a difficult year for schools. In June, when Cree received help for his tractor, the theme was fatherly figures.

“We were trying to really get the community’s input,” said the store’s social media manager, Samantha Pepin. “We wanted everyone to be included.”

She sees the initiative as a way to recognize people’s contributions to the community. This was the case in August when The Medicine Box sought nominations for beaders, basketmakers, woodworkers, and painters in a bid to highlight community artists.

The nomination system allows the store to reach people who don’t always know how to ask for help, Pepin said, something validated by Cree’s reaction to being selected.

“I had two feelings,” said Cree. “Why me? I’m not that bad off. Then in another way, I appreciated it. I don’t like to ask for things or get things, but I appreciate what they did.”

He encouraged people not to be shy to nominate those who may need it.

Mohawk Council of Kanesatake chief Denise David believes the value of the Medicine Box’s initiative comes in part from reaching many in the community by addressing a range of issues.

David’s own granddaughters were given the opportunity to play ringette, a sport they love, thanks to The Medicine Box.

“Other families can benefit from this foundation in many ways,” she said. “Niá:wen, they are there to help families and children to have an opportunity to enjoy.”

She believes The Medicine Box’s generosity, which she called a gesture of kindness, is helping to bring the community’s traditional values back to the forefront.

The initiative has even helped in the effort to revitalize Kanien’kéha in Kanesatake by matching donations to the Ratiwennenhá:wi immersion program.

The Medicine Box’s charitable giving reflects the store’s values, said Pepin.

“It’s just been rewarding to see people that don’t see it coming, whether or not it was a gift certificate to a hardware store to fix their kitchen, to get gifts for their kids at Christmas, to help pay for school supplies,” she said. “It’s been really, really heartfelt.”

Cree believes the government is not giving the community the help it needs, so it is incumbent on community members to help one another.

“Our people, they try hard to do good. Our people are finding a way to make money and to help the community,” he said.

“They do a lot for different people in the community, and I hope they continue doing that.”

gmbankuti@gmail.com

Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting