The mission’s past as a residential school has not been forgotten, but rather integrated into a unique interpretive program called Speaking Earth.
The St. Eugene Mission was the first residential school of its kind in western Canada. A culture was obliterated, and languages erased as the children were forbidden to do anything that involved their heritage. In 1970, the school was closed as the country realized these programs were wrong. First Nations youth began to join the public school system and live at home. The old residential school sat vacant for years, while many ideas for its use were attempted and failed.
Under the direction of former Chief Sophie Pierre in the 1990s, and for the next 10 years, she would guide the Ktunaxa people to create this magnificent facility. The world-class golf course would open in 2001, the casino in 2002 and then the resort hotel in 2003. Now in 2018, the Speaking Earth cultural immersion program and experience is a reality.
Jared Teneese started working on the golf course in 2001, and he and others dreamed of one day seeing a program like Speaking Earth. Jared spoke with pride and joy about how the Ktunaxa transformed such a dark time and place into an amazing and positive place to share with the world.
“The whole reason we developed Speaking Earth was to tell the story of the Ktunaxa people. When we see our guest playing games, listening to the legends, learning the history and enjoying Mother Earth we know we have achieved what we set out to do,” said Jared.