Sobey’s to sell BATC cleaning products
- NC Raine | July 06, 2021
They were given lemons, and Battlefords Agency Tribal Council (BATC) made lemonade.
Faced with a shortage of accessible and affordable cleaning products during the early stages of the pandemic, BATC saw an opportunity to provide essential products for their people while creating economic progress. Thus, nîkihk Cleaning Products were born.
“Fifteen months ago, our First Nations people couldn't find bleach, toilet paper, the bare necessities. Everything was sold over,” said Neil Sasakamoose, BATC Executive Director and President of nîkihk.
“We wanted to create an Indigenous brand that had an Indigenous, Plains sense.
That was ours. The colours are ours. And people would recognize that.”
The word nîkihk is Cree for My Home, and the products embody that identity. nîkihk offers various personal and household cleaning products – hand sanitizer, dish soap, laundry detergent, bathroom cleaner – all made with natural, environmentally friendly products native to Saskatchewan, such as sweetgrass, sage, berries and flowers. All the products are created and bottled in Saskatchewan.
At a ribbon cutting on July 5, Sobey's grocery store in Preston Crossing in Saskatoon became the first major retailer to sell nîkihk products in its store.
“Our Chiefs and our ancestors negotiated and signed Treaty for a variety of reasons (...) and one of them was this, the Treaty-based economy and the Treaty-right to a livelihood,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron.
“Let this be a catalyst not only at Sobey's but in every supermarket. We have a vision, we can see it being offered right across this world,” said Cameron.
Although only offered at one Sobey's location currently, the grocer chain operates 1,500 stores across the country, and Cameron envisions nîkihk products on Sobey's shelves across the country, if not globally.
“You a providing a service, a need that is needed right throughout this country and world. This is going to be offered not at one of the 1,500 stores across the country, but globally.”
Saskamoose said the new brand is creating needed stimulation to the BATC First Nations.
“This is a big thing for us. It's a new business. Our businesses struggled during Covid. We had to find something to diversify, something brand new,” he said.
Bob Behari, managing partner with nîkihk, said more cleaning products will soon be added, totalling almost 25 unique, ecofriendly products.
“This couldn't be better, and it has such a humble start,” said Behari. “This is just a steppingstone for us.”