First Nation opens shop selling discounted cigarettes
The Canupawakpa First Nation opened a new facility featuring discounted cigarettes and a gaming lounge on Wednesday.
The First Nation's chief said Canupawakpa is not breaking any laws because the facility is operating on land that belongs to the Dakota people.
"This is our land…it's not reserve land. It's not provincial land," said Frank Brown, chief of Canupawakpa First Nation.
The facility, named the Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop and located by Pipestone southwest of Brandon, is selling discounted cigarettes shipped in from a Mohawk territory in Quebec.
They sell for less than half the price of provincially-taxed smokes and First Nation officials said they'll sell them to anyone.
Brown said the facility will also run Texas Hold 'Em games and will feature 100 VLTs, which are on the way from Las Vegas, none of which they have provincial approval to operate.
But the chief said since they've never signed an official treaty with Ottawa, their own rules apply.
"My argument is what laws are you using? What jurisdictions do you have?" asked Brown.
The province said any store that sells tobacco must be licensed and only cigarettes marked for retail sale in Manitoba are allowed to be sold in stores, no matter the location.
The province said it will take action against anyone who breaks the rules.
On Thursday, the Canadian and Western Convenience Stores Associations called on Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger to enforce current laws.
"If the Manitoba government allows just one illegal smoke shack to open and operate, 50 will follow suit leading to increased crime, higher tobacco consumption among minors, lost revenue for the province and the closure of countless legal convenience stores as has happened in Ontario and Québec," said Michel Gadbois, the CCSA's senior vice-president, in a statement.
The Dakota people said this is more than trying to make money off selling cheap cigarettes and running a gaming facility. With the support of other Manitoba chiefs, they're challenging authorities to try and shut them down.
The chiefs want to negotiate with the federal government on a number of issues and hope the controversy over the Canupawakpa store will lead to negotiations.
- with a report from CTV's Josh Crabb