The Blood Reserve now has a grocery store to call its own.
The Kainai Marketplace is officially open for business, bringing healthy food options and 24 new jobs to the Blood Tribe community in southern Alberta.
With a population of around 13,000 people, the Blood Reserve is the largest First Nation in Canada, but until Friday, did not have a grocery store.
Rob Crow, the Director of Economic Development of the Blood Tribe told Global News a local market was long overdue.
“We’ve stopped a lot of leakage to the surrounding communities because we’re supporting our own, as well as providing employment,” said Crow.
The 12,000 square foot supermarket was designed specifically for residents of the reserve, so frequent drives into towns like Lethbridge, can be avoided.
“No other alternatives, other than going to Cardston, Fort Macleod or Lethbridge,” Crow said.
“For a lot of our members, it’s not only a mobility issue, it’s also an expense.”
Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan said the project will not only save residents the trip, but create jobs for residents and boost the local economy.
“Seventeen million dollars is spent a year on groceries by Blood Tribe members outside of the community … it makes a lot of sense to try and bring that back home,” Feehan said.
“All the money that comes from the economic development here can now be put into the next project.”
The $6.2-million project was announced in March of 2015, and was funded through a partnership between the First Nation and the Alberta government.