The Northern Store is opening its doors in Pelican Narrows Saturday for the first time in four years.

A fire previously destroyed the store and a new building was built in its place.

Yet with COVID-19 impacting many northern communities a grand opening will not be occurring.

Instead the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and the North West Company will present a holiday food hamper to each household in that community as a celebration.

The store will open in phases to accommodate pandemic concerns.

“The store is approximately 7500 square feet, and it will open tomorrow, with a full food offering a fresh product and other staples on it,” said Doug Anderson, Director of Sales and Operations with North West Company.

“We’re going to open the food store tomorrow, the gas will be offered approximately December 4, the pharmacy will open on December 8. And then there will be a Tim Hortons and an H.M.R., which is a hot food service, which will be opening at some point in the future.”

COVID restrictions and protocols will be in place, where Elders will be provided preference. The store capacity will be for 15 customers at a time.

“The community of Pelican Narrows has been underserved,” explained Mike Beaulieu, Vice President, Canadian Store Operations. “Now more than ever we are reminded of the importance of communities having access to a safe and secure source of healthy food.”

The store includes a wide assortment of fresh foods, groceries, household necessities.

“This business will bring many much-needed necessities into our community, which are essential to our membership,” said Weldon McCallum, Vice Chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation.

Once the store is in full operation it is expected to employ 40 people.

(Photo: Sketch of Northern Store in Pelican Narrows. Courtesy of Northern Store Pelican Narrows Facebook.)