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First Nations chip brand hitting Canadian shelves

Rachael Knowles -

Canadian supermarkets are soon to be stocking Indigenous-owned potato chip brand Tomahawk Chips.

The independent Manitoba-based brand was created in 2015 by Alfred Lea, a First Nations man from Pine Dock, Manitoba.

Tomahawk Chips, which is a product sold under Lea's main business Native Canadian Chip Corporation, are available in Manitoba, Northern Ontario, California and on Amazon.

Lea recently signed with Calgary's Star Wholesale Ltd., which will see the brand shipped across Canada.

Lea told Global News the expansion was "overwhelming".

"You can't quit, you're the groundbreaker for a lot of the young people and youth â€" that's a responsibility I take seriously."

Star Wholesale National Sales Manager Bruce Marlow said the brand looked "forward to a bright future with Native Canadian Chip Corporation".

"Our initial delivery will be to western Canadian Pharmasave locations; IGA in BC; Calgary Co-Op, Rubicon Pharmacy; and Neighbourly Pharmacy with stores in most Canadian provinces."

Alfred Lea and the Tomahawk Chip range. Photo via Tomahawk Chips, Facebook.

Currently, Tomahawk Chips are available in five flavours, with each flavour sporting a different packet design created by an Indigenous artist.

"Artists always have a hard time no matter who they are trying to promote their product to, and I thought if I could do something for them, that would make me happy," Lea said.

"I purchased the rights to use it, but they can make prints and sell it on their own and I would promote them as the bags go store to store."

With a passion for business, Lea mentors young people, inspiring the entrepreneurial talent within them.

He mentors predominantly at the Riverton and District Friendship Centre in Manitoba.

"One day they'll become my competition, but that's fine," Lea said.

"We have a store there, an e-commerce store type thing, and we teach them about running a business and stuff like that. I go there myself and ... help them decide what they should do so they can get their projects underway."

With Tomahawk Chips taking off, Lea has begun working on expanding his brand to soon include jerky, candy, popcorn and corn chips.

By Rachael Knowles

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