St. Eugene Mission Resort, Ktunaxa Nation, near Cranbrook in BC’s Kootenay Rockies.
This conference is intentionally taking place at St. Eugene Mission Resort, the site of a former residential school that is now owned and operated by the Ktunaxa Nation as a vehicle for education and economic development. As Elder Mary Paul said, “It is said that, since it was within the St. Eugene Mission that the culture of the Kootenay Indian was taken away, it should be within that building that it is returned”.
St. Eugene is nestled beside the St. Mary’s River in the Kootenay Rockies, just 5 minutes from the Canadian Rockies International Airport. St. Eugene was selected for its retreat style setting, beautiful natural environment, ownership by the Ktunaxa Nation and commitment to environmental sustainability. St. Eugene Mission Resort is owned by several Ktunaxa communities: ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation, ʔaq̓am, ʔakink̓umǂasnuqǂiʔit (Tobacco Plains), yaqan nukiy (Lower Kootenay) and Kyaknuq+i?it – the Shuswap Indian Band.
This resort won the 2009 B.C. Aboriginal Tourism Conservation Award and the 2011 CGSA Environmental Achievement Award, and their golf course is certified under the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. This certification ensures the enhancement of the local natural areas and wildlife habitats, improves efficiency, and minimizes potentially harmful impacts of golf course operations.
In the mid 1990’s the Ktunaxa Nation came-up with the dream of building a destination resort on the banks of the St. Mary River which had great vistas of the Rocky Mountains to the East & Purcell Range to the West. The teams of professionals brought in were heritage Architects Toby, Russell, Buckwell, Reno Negrin, along with Axis Environmental Consulting. The group was given direction by the Ktunaxa Tribal Council & INAC to delicately protect full scope of the Heritage buildings and the natural environment during construction of the project due to its importance for the resort’s future.
Once the resort was completed, the management team took on the same philosophy of protecting the land as shared habitat. The resort joined the Audubon Society to help implement policies & procedures while the staff took upon themselves to create guidelines for the tactical maintenance of the property as pesticide applicators & integrated pest managers. The staff set trends by implementing local rules of golf that showed the customer our concern with the environment and worked diligently at creating healthier turfgrass plants & reduced chemical applications. The resort also became a strong supporter of golf course associations & societies that are mandated to protect the environment and promote natural habitats. Buffer zones for our potable water supply were created & wildlife corridors were established throughout the golf course property.
Once the SEM Partnership took over in 2004 a Resource Advisory Group was formed, inviting environmentally proactive or expert people from the surrounding communities to have a voice with the way the resort planned and operated on environmental & wildlife issues and projects. Also an Aboriginal Elder Advisory Group has just recently been formulated to help with Cultural & Heritage issues related to the resort’s operations and procedures as well as the lands & wildlife.
Presently a directive with that Group is underway to name all the golf holes with an environmental, historical or wildlife theme which will also be translated & displayed in the Ktunaxa Language. They are proud that the endangered Townsend Long-eared Bats, Badger, Bald Eagle, Painted Turtle, and Great Blue Heron have all taken up residence and made St. Eugene their home. Bird Watching tours are being considered to showcase over 150 bird species prevalent on their 327 acre property. Kokanee, the land locked salmon, are once again spawning in Joseph Creek.
St. Eugene Resort is a proud member of:
- Audubon Co-operative Sanctuary System
- Ducks Unlimited.
- Partnership with BC Hydro’s Power Smart program
- British Columbia Water & Waste Association
- Audubon Greenleaf Eco-Rating
- Trip Advisor Green Survey
St. Eugene is the recipient of:
- 2009 B.C. Aboriginal Tourism Conservation Award.
- 2011 CGSA Environmental Achievement Award