A new community-owned grocery store is bringing fresh, healthy food and 24 new jobs to the Blood Tribe community in southern Alberta.
Community members previously had to drive 45 minutes to Lethbridge to buy affordable groceries, a challenge for those without ready access to transportation.
“The Kainai Marketplace is an example of how positive collaboration between the Blood Tribe and Alberta can get a positive result towards a community need. The opening of the Marketplace is a historic event for the community of the Blood Reserve. We look forward to other joint initiatives with other governments and Alberta in economic and other sectors.”
The province contributed $1.5 million to Kainai Marketplace through a pilot program that has since become the Aboriginal Business Investment Fund. The Blood Tribe also contributed $1.5 million and is covering the remaining costs through third-party financing.
Construction involved local companies and more than 7,500 person-hours of labour.
“Indigenous-owned businesses like the Kainai Marketplace do more than create jobs and strengthen local economies. An entire community benefits from this investment.”
“The goal of the Kainai Marketplace grocery store is to bring affordable, fresh, healthy food products to on-reserve First Nation members who currently have no alternative to convenience store junk food. This is especially important considering the myriad of health issues and lack of nutritional choices that members face.”
The Aboriginal Business Investment Fund provides capital funding to Indigenous-owned businesses that are breaking ground on construction or close to starting operations. Last year, the fund provided $5 million for eight projects across the province.
Alberta has earmarked another $5 million for the fund this year. Successful applicants are expected to be announced in early 2017.
The Aboriginal Business Investment Fund is one of several Alberta government programs that support opportunities for Indigenous people to participate fully in Alberta’s diversifying economy.