In the 1960’s a dedicated group of Wahta members saw an opportunity to bring meaningful economic development to Wahta. Through a concerted community effort and despite many roadblocks Wahta established Iroquois Cranberry Growers. By the mid 1990’s Iroquois Cranberry Growers had become the single most successful Aboriginal Community owned business in Canada. Cranberries became what Wahta was know for.
High profits in the Cranberry market attracted more and more growers leading to an oversupply of berries. The oversupply lead to a 90% drop in the price of cranberries and Iroquois Cranberry Growers began to post losses. The oversupply in the world market and the losses at Iroquois Cranberry Growers continues to the present day. Total losses that have been absorbed by Wahta Mohawks on behalf of Iroquois Cranberry Growers are a now approaching $5 million dollars.
Iroquois Cranberry Growers was started to contribute to the economic well being of Wahta members by providing both jobs and funds for everyone’s benefit. In the last 20 plus years Iroquois Cranberry Growers has instead become a drain on the financial well being of Wahta while producing few jobs for members.
It is with a heavy heart that Chief and Council announce that Iroquois Cranberry Growers will cease operations immediately. Steps will be taken to maximize the liquidation of existing ICG assets.
This has not been an easy decision but continuing to pour funds into Iroquois Cranberry Growers with little likelihood of any return goes against the very reason that Iroquois Cranberry Growers was started in the first place. We will take the resources that have been going into Iroquois Cranberry Growers and put them into developing new economic opportunities that meet the goals that were set out when ICG first started. To that end, we are putting funding in place to do a feasibility and design study on opportunities on Hwy 400.
Aboriginal businesses run by a development corporation with at Board of Directors separate from politically elected officials enjoy a high success rate across Canada. We are in the process of setting up a Development Corporation for Wahta that will operate all future economic development projects.
This is a sad day but it is also a time to reflect on the successes of the past, to honour and thank all of the many people who did so much to create and grow Iroquois Cranberry Growers, then to turn to the future as we build new success stories for Wahta and our current and future generations.
ICG Press Release