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State-of-the-art industrial hemp processing plant coming to Northern Alberta

Money from the Government of Alberta and federal government are supporting hemp production projects in the Elk Point and Frog Lake areas.
Provincial and federal support was announced on Friday, relating to hemp processing in the Elk Point and Frog Lake area.

In a step toward rejuvenating and diversifying the economy in the Lakeland, the Government of Alberta has announced $1.1 million from the Investment and Growth Fund for a project that will see Canada’s largest uniform production company – Logistik Unicorp – coming to Elk Point. 

On the same day, the federal government announced $5 million in federal funding through the Community Economic Development and Diversification fund for the Askiy Hemp Limited Partnership (Askiy), "to construct a state-of-the-art industrial hemp processing plant in Elk Point," according to information from Prairies Economic Development Canada.

The move by Logistik Unicorp is part of a broader initiative that will see hemp grown in the Elk Point and Frog Lake region, along with production facilities established that will turn the locally grown hemp into actual products. The company will be cultivating hemp in Frog Lake First Nations and developing a hemp processing plant in Elk Point. The hemp will be used to make uniforms. 

According to Government of Alberta Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade Matt Jones, creating value-added products from the agriculture sector is something the Government of Alberta likes to see.  

The investment by the province will help create 33 permanent jobs and 50 temporary jobs in Elk Point. 

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA Scott Cyr acknowledges that Elk Point has experienced a depressed economy in recent years, which means lower house prices and businesses that have closed their doors. But the Town of Elk Point council and Frog Lake First Nations have been very motivated and engaged in bringing business to town, which includes other hemp-related investments. 

While Cyr acknowledges the important role the oil and gas sector plays throughout the constituency and in the Elk Point region specifically, he believes the agriculture sector is undervalued and sees potential to grow.  

“It’s exciting for us,” said Cyr. He believes the investment will encourage other businesses to come to Elk Point and help fill empty buildings on main street.  

Provincial announcement made official on May 3 

The partnership, operating under the Askiy Hemp LP, will include building a “decortication, refinement and cottonization hemp plant with a capacity to process 40,000 tonnes of hemp stalks per year,” according to the Government of Alberta, in an official announcement made on May 3. 

The plan is to use hemp cultivated in Frog Lake First Nations and other neighbouring Indigenous communities on 125,000 acres of land. 

“We are pleased to be part of the transformation of the Canadian industrial landscape by fostering economic development for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Working with Frog Lake First Nations is a natural step in creating this new market within our economy. In line with Canada's vision of growth and reconciliation, this inspiring project is rooted in and springs from our environmental values, bringing about the creation of a unique and promising new hemp industry, a reflection of Canada’s resourcefulness,” said Louis Bibeau, president and CEO, Logistik Unicorp Inc. 

Logistik Unicorp Inc. is based in Quebec and is the largest uniform company in Canada with more than 10 years experience in the hemp industry.  

When the announcement was made official on Friday, Frog Lake Chief Gregory Dejarlais was quoted as saying, “As the Chief of Frog Lake First Nations, we are committed to enhancing the lives of our people. This can only be done by diversifying and by making investments such as this, as it is an important factor to the nations’ growth.” 

Desjarlais added, “It will provide a large scale of opportunities in green energy, food and water sovereignty, clean transportation, carbon sequestration and sustainable projects.” 

Town of Elk Point Mayor Parish Tung also expressed his excitement about the project.  

“On behalf of the Town of Elk Point, we are excited that with the assistance and encouragement of our government, Askiy Hemp LP has decided to invest in our town. Askiy Hemp LP is a shining example of the collaboration between our First Nation friends and the private sector to promote economic and agricultural development within our region.” 

Federal funds

The federal funds will be used to support the creation of a hemp processing facility, and "When complete, the plant will process 40,000 tons of hemp stalk annually for use in a variety of products including textiles, building materials, fertilizer, and paper. Increasing demand for hemp will provide a new revenue stream for farmers and diversify Alberta’s agricultural sector," according to the federal government.

In the additional facts provided by the federal government, it says, "A repayable $5 million federal contribution is being provided for this project through the Community Economic Development and Diversification fund, administered in Alberta by PrairiesCan."

The federal announcements adds, "The Askiy hemp processing plant is expected to be operational in summer of 2025 and is one component of a multi-million-dollar development that Askiy will lead in the Elk Point area. Once complete, this facility will directly employ more than 45 individuals, with at least one third of these jobs expected to be filled by Indigenous Peoples. Initially the hemp materials produced in this facility will primarily be used in textiles," according to the Government of Canada.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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