Jared Teneese is Business & Product Development Coordinator, St. Eugene Resort in British Columbia
Tell me a little bit about St. Eugene Resort. What do you offer?
Teneese: St. Eugene Resort is located just outside of Cranbrook and features a full-service, hotel with 125 rooms and suites, the Casino of the Rockies and a Les Furber-designed, championship golf course. The resort is also home to events, weddings, corporate retreats, fine dining as well as a full-service KOA RV Park.
The resort was once home to a residential school. Can you tell me more about that?
Teneese: The resort is proudly owned by the Ktunaxa Nation who, for more than 10,000 years, have seasonally migrated across their traditional territory of the Kootenay and Columbia River valleys. The magnificent Spanish colonial main building you see today was once the St. Eugene Mission, built as a residential school for Ktunaxa youth in 1910. The school was closed in 1970 and remained empty for the next two decades until band elders decided to restore the property as a hotel. For decades, the direction of former Chief Sophie Pierre provided a dedicated and driving force in reclaiming the Ktunaxa heritage. She was consistently inspired by Elder Mary Paul’s belief that, “You lose something only if you refuse to pick it up again.” This restoration took 10 incredibly difficult years as band members worked to strip the interiors back to its iconic red brick walls. The golf course opened first in May 2000, The Casino of the Rockies, the only casino operated on Indian Reserve lands in British Columbia, opened next in September 2002, followed in January 2003 by the St. Eugene Hotel.
To our knowledge, the St. Eugene Mission is the only project in Canada where a First Nation has transformed the icon of an often-sad period of its history into a powerful economic engine by converting a residential school into a resort hotel.
You recently introduced an Indigenous corporate training program. What does it offer?
Teneese: The training is a perfect introduction for corporate groups who are pursuing understanding and sensitivity in their relationships with Indigenous people. Training participants will reflect upon some challenging subject matter in a positive and supportive environment.
Can any business be involved in this kind of program?
Teneese: Any type of business can be involved. We’ve identified that this type of training is ideal for those who:
- Operate with or alongside Indigenous employees and communities.
- Work with Indigenous governments and businesses and want to learn ways to be more effective;.
- Need to learn how to reach out, recruit and retain qualified Indigenous employees.
- Need to learn how to build positive trusting relationships to enhance business opportunities for all.
What is your hope for the program?
Teneese: Our hope is that it is well received by the business community and helps people of all backgrounds gain a deeper understanding regarding the issues with indigenous people of Canada and in the U.S.
Jared Teneese was interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi.
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