31 Mar Green Future Industries
Green Future Industries is all about sustainability. Founded in British Columbia by Steven Teed in 2017, Green Future Industries is using hemp and its derivatives to create greener communities. “We looked at the challenges of living on reserve like housing, lack of career opportunities, lack of natural building materials, clothing materials, the raw materials to build your life. All the information we found showed that hemp was an answer to a lot of these questions,” says Teed. “But you can still have a lot of the comforts of modern life such as a nice house, good clothing, biodegradable plastics, paper products. You can still have all those same things but with a better quality product.” Hemp is a relatively strong and fast-growing crop that can be made into biodegradable products such as paper and plastic. It has been used in a variety of other ways including construction materials, clothing, food, and even biofuel. Industrial hemp has only been permitted in Canada since 1998. Although Green Future Industries was formalized in 2017, Teed says he’s been working on the idea for a long time. “I was gifted a hemp jacket when I was a teenager,” Teed recalls. “Ever since then, I’ve always been learning about and researching hemp.” Teed began a hemp farm on his reserve four years ago, investing the money from his other business to build Green Future Industries. Now that Green Future Industries has grown, Teed is getting attention from other Indigenous communities. “We have a lot of interest from communities all across Canada and North America,” Teed says. He has been traveling and educating others for the last two years about the many uses of the hemp plant as well as helping them get started in the industry. “I think soon you’ll see a big explosion of hemp being grown on reserves all across Canada,” Teed says. Hemp and its many uses are not new. “It’s one of the oldest traded commodities around the world,” Teed acknowledges. “It might sound new and exciting, but it’s really about bringing something that was old and forgotten into a new technological age.” Today, hemp is being produced and used for diverse purposes in many countries around the world, including China, Australia, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Back home, Teed has been working on processing technology to make hemp a commercially viable building material for First Nations housing. “We have a dream of growing the product, processing it, and building it all in the same community,” he says. I N D I G E N O M I C S 1 0 T O W A T C H L I S T J U N E 2 0 1 9 | I N D I G E N O M I C S I N S T I T U T E ‘ S S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y “We have a dream of growing the product, processing it, and building it all in the same community, ” Teed says. S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y Within the next five years, he hopes to complete the first high rise building crafted from hemp materials. But it’s not just about growing, processing, and using a more sustainable material. It’s also about jobs. “There might be some jobs here on-reserve, but they’re all oil, gas, mining, and forestry. When we go work these jobs, we don’t come home feeling good,” says Teed. “That’s why many of our people don’t stay in these industries for long because it’s not true to our values.” In contrast, Teed believes the hemp industry offers an alternative path forward that is more in accord with Indigenous values and respect for the land. One value in particular that resonates with communities is whole plant utilization. “It’s in our culture to use every part of the plant,” says Teed. “There are so many good products you can make from every part of the plant that you’re not wasting anything.” With the support and excitement of his community and other communities across Canada, Teed envisions a greener future based on Indigenous values and fueled by honest industry. “When I’m working with our youth in the fields, they see new opportunity to contribute and they know that they’re improving the environment and protecting their land.” When Teed considers the growth of the Indigenous economy, he recognizes the long road ahead. “It’s going to take a lot of strong First Nation leaders to stand up. It’s going to take hard work to show that we belong and that this our land and that we’re capable. We’re coming from such a far behind position, but I think we’re on our way and I can see a new generation of Indigenous people that are hungry and that are dedicated to bringing change. It’s really exciting.” Teed’s message to others seeking to strengthen their communities is not to wait. “I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs have a good idea, but they are waiting for the grant or they’re waiting for something from their chief and council. You can do it yourself. If I kept waiting and waiting for approval or support, I probably wouldn’t be growing right now. Putting in that time and effort is hard, but good things will come from the fruits of your labor.