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Rural Canadian towns hope legal pot breathes new life into burnt-out economies

DUNCAN, B.C.—In a tree-nestled First Nation community on Vancouver Island, forestry and farming used to be the major industries that kept the economy humming and put food on families’ tables.

But members of the Cowichan Tribes, like people from so many small and rural towns in Canada, have seen jobs driven elsewhere through dramatic changes to those sectors.

So when a medical marijuana company moved next door, Chief William Seymour saw an opportunity for his members to get good jobs and stay in the area.

“It’s their home. It is hard for any First Nation, doesn’t matter where you go, when they grow up in their own community. Having to move is always a huge thing,” he said.

Harvest One Cannabis Inc.’s grow facility is located on land owned by the Cowichan Tribes just outside Duncan, B.C. The company hopes to employ members of the First Nation once it completes a $9-million expansion, and the band is offering to pay for training courses to get prospective workers up to speed.

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