The visiting dignitaries and hoopla of the official opening of Ohsweken’s full Tim Horton’s sit in and drive through restaurant probably out drew the media present at the opening of the very first Tim Horton’s ever, back in 1964, in Hamilton.
This opening represents the first full service, 100% native owned and operated Timmy’s on a reserve in Canada. There are other Horton’s Drive Thru’s on other reserves, some are partnered between native and non-native owners, but this one is special.
Six Nations’ Landon Miller, along with Ted, Brandon and Jordan Nolan, of NHL fame, have been through a lot in getting this franchise located at Six Nations. In the past, Horton’s always demanded ownership of the real estate any of its franchises were built on. The other big issue was tax. There is no tax on a reserve.
The grand opening celebrates the power of cooperation according to Liberal Speaker of the House and Brant MPP, Dave Levac.
“This is a great example of what can be done while still respecting the Two Row Wampum,” said Levac.
During that seven-year journey, Tim Hortons was sold to Burger King and with that the proponents, Miller and the Nolans, had a second turn at bat. This time they hit a home run, with the cooperation of Horton’s new ownership, and more than a little help from Levac.
The cooperation also had to be met by the Ontario government to honour Six Nations rights and not charge tax on their products sold on reserve. After so many years of push-pull both hurdles were cleared very quickly, and an agreement was reached.
“In an ‘all-or-nothing’ world, no one really wins,” said Levac. “Something like this has never been done before. This is a watershed moment, a big step towards economic independence and self-reliance and should stand as a model for the future.”
Confederacy Secretary Jock Hill, opened the gala with the Ganyohonyohk (Thanksgiving address) prayer before that he congratulated Miller, the Nolans and Tim Horton’s Ltd., for respecting Six Nations tax immunity. He pointed to the appreciation he has for Hortons and Ontario in respecting their treaty obligations while hammering out a deal that could open a whole new the door to commerce and on-reserve jobs.
Miller proudly announced that his Six Nations Horton’s is providing jobs for 62 Six Nations residents, 25 of them high school age youth just entering the work force for the first time.
Elected Chief Ava Hill welcomed the new fixture on Chiefswood Road.
“This is a great ecomonic boost to this community and the timing couldn’t be better. The Ontario First Nations Economic Forum starts tomorrow to look at ways of creating wealth for community sustainability,” she said. “Landon and Ted are booked as speakers to talk about this franchise and how we can employ our own people.”
Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, David Zimmer, was also on hand to pledge support for this kind of venture.
Speaking of the Two Row Wampum explained by Jock Hill, Zimmer reflected on the duties and obligations of the Crown.
“This is an example to remind us of the duty of the Crown in respecting our treaties,” he said.
Ted Nolan, in his address, thanked Miller for his tenacity.
“There were times when we wondered if this day would ever come,” he said. “But I’m glad we stuck it out.” Miller agreed.
Nolan also gave a shout out to his hockey hero growing up in Garden River.
“We need trail blazers. For me it was Stan Jonathan,” he said as said he pointed Jonathan out in the crowd.
“This opening is and example of what we can do,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for Six Nations. We opened a lot of roadblocks to our economic growth.
Miller also thanked Two Rivers for their support and help throughout the difficult process. With that, the ribbon and the cake were cut, and history was made.