With the echo of ceremonial gun-fire and the flapping of eagle's wings, the Tsuu T'ina Nation introduced its economic plan for the future to more than 500 visitors and dignitaries Monday, May 2 at the reserve southwest of Calgary.
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Ron Irwin were two of the dignitaries who witnessed the rifle salute and the symbolic release of two formerly convalescent eagles as part of opening ceremonies for the nation's new 7,380 square-metre administration building.
The building is the focal point of an economic plan which will include construction of the Itsu Isnooi Business park, a 1,350-square-metre commercial centre, the development of the 27-hole Buffalo Run Golf Course and the construction in August of a new junior and senior high school.
The beautiful three-storey structure was built in two years at a cost of $8 million and houses the nation's government and administration, the new Indian Oil and Gas Canada headquarter, the southern Alberta Indian and Northern Affairs Canada offices, health and Welfare Canada, and the Treaty Seven business Development and Community Features Centre.
Tsuu T'ina Chief Roy Whitney said the development will encourage Natives to contribute to their economy by creating business and spending opportunities.
"What we hope to do is to be able to generate the money within the community so it is spent at least seven times before it leaves into the city," Whitney said.
Whitney also said a strong economic community contributes to strengthening culture by giving its people a firm foundation from which to work.
"It gives a real sense of pride in the nation and within the individual," Whitney added.
Klein applauded the project as an "effective and efficient way for doing things," citing the consolidation of federal governed services, Tsuu T'ina tribal services and private sector services as a trend other political circles should emulate.
This $6-million dollar, 20-year mortgage from the Alberta Treasury Branch anchored financing for the administration, while the nation invested $2 million. A grant negotiated with the Canadian Economic Development Strategies also funded a portion of the project.
Peter K. ManyWounds, Tsuu T'ina Business and Development commissioner, said the nation will pay the mortgage through leasing the building's office and business space.
While space has already been leased for a restaurant and lounge, smoke shop and trading post-style store, ManyWounds is also in the process of negotiating leasing space to the Alberta Treasury Branch.
The Government of Canada already leases 38 per cent of the building's office space.