By J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Some people left the Santa Claus Parade in Six Nations with more than candy canes in their goody bags.
A cannabis business on the reserve that had a float in the parade on Nov. 18 allegedly distributed unspecified “cannabis products” to members of the crowd.
Giving out drugs at all-ages public events “puts the safety of community members at risk — especially our youth,” said Chief Sherri-Lyn Hill, of Six Nations elected council, in a statement.
At a council meeting on Monday, Coun. Greg Frazer said the unauthorized giveaway sparked several complaints from the public.
“No one knew that they were going to do that. It is a concern,” Frazer said.
Coun. Audrey Powless-Bomberry called the cannabis giveaway “really inappropriate,” noting it is against Haudenosaunee values to consume mind-altering substances.
“It should never have happened,” she said”
Several councillors were upset to have drugs handed out in a community where many members struggle with substance abuse, and where kids could have inadvertently consumed the products.
In a press release, the Six Nations Cannabis Commission called the incident “disheartening,” noting the business alleged to have distributed cannabis was not licensed by the commission.
“The optics of having children associated with a cannabis float in a Santa Claus parade generates a misconception of the relationship between children and cannabis, which is completely sending the wrong message,” the commission said.
Commission members strive to deliver “safe and tested products, while ensuring these products are safely kept away from children,” the release said.
Coun. Alaina VanEvery told councillors she had a “really productive conversation” with the owner of the business in question.
VanEvery said she was told the products were given away in nondescript containers, and only to people known to be of age.
Responding to concerns from the community, the business owner agreed not to do similar giveaways in future, VanEvery said.
Elected council decided to declare future public events free of drugs and alcohol.