Tsixw’idaliła, traditional Ground Breaking Ceremony featuring We Wai Kai Nation Chief Councillorl Ronnie Chickite (middle left) and Starbucks Shannon Leisz (middle right). (Photo credit Eric Kular).

On Monday, First Nation members of the We Wai Kai Nation gathered for a ceremonial groundbreaking to honour the land that will become the site of a new Starbucks coffee shop.

Located within Quinsam Crossing in Campbell River, the cafe will be fully operated by the We Wai Kai Nation, making the partnership the first of its kind in Canada. 

“We Wai Kai Nation is a proud leader in providing progressive economic, cultural and social services for its members, residents and businesses,” said Ronnie Chickite, Chief Councillor, We Wai Kai Nation. 

According to Starbucks, as a licensed store, the We Wai Kai Nation will have complete control over the operation of the coffee shop, while providing the same Starbucks Experience customers enjoy at stores across Canada.

The We Wai Kai Nation will focus on hiring locally and the store’s design will reflect the origins and pride of We Wai Kai Nation with materials and local art.

“Economic development is a key pillar of our strategic plan and an important component as we move towards a treaty. It is through partnerships, like this one with Starbuck Canada, that will support our goal of self-reliance,” said Chickite. 

With the development now set in motion, the new shop is expected to open this fall.

We Wai Kai Nation are members of the Kwakwakaʼwakw Indigenous peoples living on Quadra Island at the mouth of the Campbell River near Vancouver Island’s eastern coast. Spanning nearly 1,700 acres of forests and coastlines, its communities have long been known for their local artistry, hospitality and natural beauty.

The announcement of this business venture represents We Wai Kai Nation’s continued effort to invest in local businesses, building talent, and fostering relationships with other organizations that help drive entrepreneurship and meaningful employment within the community.