New M’Chigeeng First Nation grocery store moves forward with preliminary work

This sign marks the future site of the new M’Chigeeng along Highway 511. photo by Alicia McCutcheon

M’CHIGEENG—The official sign is now up in M’Chigeeng marking the future home of the M’Chigeeng First Nation Community Grocery Store and Retail Outlet Business Centre next to UCCM Castle Building Material Supply on Highway 511. Although groundbreaking isn’t scheduled to start until the spring, M’Chigeeng Chief Joe Hare said he and council have been busy with preliminary work.

“We hired a consulting firm, BDO, out of Sault Ste. Marie,” explained Chief Hare. “The final layout is not completed, but we have reviewed a draft layout.”

Prior to the project getting the green light, the firm also completed a feasibility study.

“The community has wanted to see a retail grocery store for many years, but in the past we didn’t quite have the numbers to sustain one,” Chief Hare told The Expositor. “We have done our homework and we now believe the time is right to build.”

Chief Hare said that the band is exploring retail franchises and is leaning towards an Independent Grocer, noting that they want the store to be “large” and with a “variety of merchandise,” comparable or larger than the current grocers on Manitoulin.

The location sign alludes to a mini mall, but Chief Hare said that isn’t exactly the plan.

“As I said, the official layout is not completed, but we are looking at a portion of the building being made available to micro businesses as well as creating office space for our growing band,” clarified Chief Hare.

The store is projected to create at least 20 new jobs for the community and provide the band with revenue.