Even though it’s been operating since early May, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) celebrated the official grand opening of its Thompson gas bar Sept. 6.
NCN council provided a free public barbecue and live music to commemorate the fact that this gas station is finally completed now that they finished paving the entire property.
Chief Marcel Moody kicked off Friday’s festivities by telling the crowd about his vision for the future of this business, and how he wants it to be more than just a place where Indigenous people can pick up treaty gas.
“We don’t want this to be known as the Indian gas station or Aboriginal gas station,” he said. “We want it to be recognized as a full serving gas station with beautiful amenities and competitive pricing.”
Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook reiterated her view that NCN and its various local businesses play an important role in the city’s economy.
“Since this land was turned over as an urban reserve it’s amazing the things that go on,” she said. “The economy of Thompson is what it is because of all our partners.”
In the spring of 2016, NCN finally received urban reserve status for the 4.21 hectares of land surrounding the Mystery Lake Hotel in Thompson, which the First Nation had owned for over a decade at that point. This new status provided them with more flexibility to develop on that property.
Roughly a year later, NCN announced that they would be building a gas station next to the hotel.
NCN also owns and operates Thompson's Family Foods store and Meta Cannabis Supply, the latter of which opened last December.
Moody told the Thompson Citizen that their next big project is renovating the Mystery Lake Hotel.
“We’re currently renovating our kitchen at the Mystery Lake and we’ve got to do the front entrance and the main lobby area that’s behind it,” he said. “We’re always trying to improve our businesses to make it classy for our customers.”
The gas station currently employs 23 people, 17 of whom are NCN members.