Indigenous-owned, Manitoba-based potato chips brand heading to shelves across Canada

Based in Manitoba, Alfred Lea's Tomahawk Chips will soon be selling coast-to-coast. Submitted / Alfred Lea

An independent Manitoba-based, Indigenous-owned brand of potato chip will soon be on shelves across the country.

Tomahawk Chips is the brainchild of Alfred Lea, who began the Native Canadian Chip Corporation in 2015.

Based in Riverton, Man., the chips have until now been sold in Manitoba, Northern Ontario, California, and on Amazon.

Most recently, Lea signed on with Calgary’s Star Wholesale Ltd., to have his chips shipped to stores across Canada.

He calls the development “overwhelming.”

“You can’t quit, you’re the groundbreaker for a lot of the young people and youth, (and) that’s a responsibility I take seriously,” Lea said Saturday, while he was en route to some trade shows in the United States to find even more distributors for his products.

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“We look forward to a bright future with Native Canadian Chip Corporation,” said Bruce Marlow, National Sales Manager with Star Wholesale Ltd., in a press release.

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“Our initial delivery will be to western Canadian Pharmasave locations; IGA in BC; Calgary Co-Op, Rubicon Pharmacy; and Neighborly Pharmacy with stores in most Canadian provinces.”

Notably, the distinctive packaging for his chips is designed by Indigenous artists, whose work Lea promotes through chip sales.

The packaging for Tomahawk Chips is designed by Indigenous artists, whose work Lea promotes through chip sales. Facebook / @tomahawkchips

“Artists always have a hard time no matter who they are trying to promote their product to, and I thought if I could do something for them, that would make me happy,” Lea said.

“I purchased the rights to use it, but they can make prints and sell it on their own and I would promote them as the bags go store to store.”

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When he’s not busy building his snacking empire, Lea mentors youth about becoming entrepreneurs themselves at the Riverton & District Friendship Centre.

“One day they’ll become my competition, but that’s fine,” Lea said.

“We have a store there, an e-commerce store type thing, and we teach them about running a business and stuff like that. I go there myself and … help them decide what they should do so they can get their projects underway.”

He also intends to begin selling jerky, candy, popcorn and corn chips in the near future.

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