At the St. Eugene Mission School the culture of the Kootenay Indian people was nearly taken away. Thanks to St. Mary’s Chief, Sophie Pierre and her dream, drive and vision, that very building is where a people’s ancient ways will again burst forth and triumph. After a decade of planning and negotiating, the St. Eugene Mission Resort – worth more than $40 million – is now a reality. By any standard, it’s quite a feat – a first-class 125 room resort hotel with conference and meeting facilities set amidst a breath-taking B.C. landscape. But the project is about more than that, so much more. Designed with a proud Ktunaxa theme, the resort also includes a Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre, traditional Ktunaxa Teepee Camp and the Ktunaxa Arts and Crafts Centre. The future is bright and the tide has turned under Chief Pierre’s watch. She has led her people for more than 20 years and is one of the most accomplished Aboriginal leaders in all Canada. With Chief Pierre at the helm, the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Tribal Council is now known far and wide for its wide range of successes. Chief Pierre has fought for Aboriginal control over education, co-chaired the First Nations Summit, excelled in business and improved her community’s life in fields such as sport, recreation, the place of women and support for the elderly. Growing up, she wasn’t looking for a career in politics. “I never really thought about being Chief,” she says. “I actually thought in high school I would be an airline hostess and fly all over the world.” Today, so many are thankful that’s one plane she missed.