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'We can be competitive just like anybody': Sask. sees first Indigenous brewery open

Minihkwe Brewery, the province’s first Indigenous brewery, is now officially open in Saskatoon.

Located at the Sandman Signature on Lorne Avenue, the brewery kicked off its opening on Saturday with a prime rib dinner, live comedy, magic and a musical performance by Armond Duck Chief, a Juno award nominee, according to a company news release.

At the event, Minihkwe introduced its first products, including Minihkwe blonde ale and omawisow (berry picker) raspberry blonde ale, the release said.

Co-founder and owner, Kelcey (KJ) Bird said he was excited to launch a brewery that celebrates Saskatchewan’s Indigenous culture and history.

“It's actually really something I'm proud of, and I'm just happy to be the first registered business for a beer company,” he told CTV News. “It’s something that I didn't think I ever would have been doing.”

He said he was hoping other Indigenous business owners would follow his lead.

“We can be competitive just like anybody else. I really hope that this gets people going. Let's get more companies going. I don't want to be the only one. Let's get more Indigenous entrepreneurs out there.”

Bird said he was hoping his brand would also bring a better understanding of his culture to customers.

“Minihkewe means ‘drinking‘ in Cree. We just found it fitting if it's a beverage and that's our whole idea of it was just to bring awareness to everybody on our Cree language. When you're enjoying a beer you get to have some knowledge of our Cree language on the treaty territory.”

Minihkwe drinks will have Cree names and labels with six colours that represent six treaty territories in the province. The company will donate some of its profits to organizations that provide mental health and wellness support to those in need, the release said.

“That's where our hearts are and that's what we're going to,” Bird said.

With files from Tyler Barrow Top Stories

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