Tsuut'ina officially opens largest sportsplex on a southern Alberta First Nation

The largest sportsplex on a southern Alberta First Nation is officially open to nation members and the public.

On Tuesday, Tsuut'ina Chief Lee Crowchild declared the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex & Chief Jim Starlight Centre open — something he said was a long time coming.

"This is an open invitation to the city of Calgary citizens to come out and see what we have to offer," Crowchild said. 

"This has been the vision for all seven chiefs. All of us on Tsuut'ina are descendants of those seven chiefs, who always thought that this is a place that should be a place called home for the nation but also for the citizens of Calgary to come and be a part of this."

The 228,00-sq.-ft. facility includes two NHL-sized indoor rinks, a covered outdoor rink and a field house.

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The field house can seat up to 5,000 spectators, while the ice rinks can seat 2,000 and 400 people, respectively

It also has a fitness centre, running track, dance studio, concession and office spaces. 

Ground broke on the building in August 2016, and it cost $58 million to complete.

"That was the nation's investment into the future," Crowchild said.

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Brenden Crane, the Tsuut'ina's project manager, said it's been a much-needed facility since the old sportsplex closed five years ago.

"It was our home, it was a place for everyone to go. And now we're giving back that home," he said.

"I think it's a beginning of a new era … both for Tsuut'ina Nation and the public."

The sports complex's name honours the first seven chiefs who led Tsuut'ina Nation following the signing of Treaty 7:

  • Chief Bullhead, who signed Treaty 7 in 1877 and led until his death in 1911.
  • Chief Big Belly, who led from 1911 to 1920.
  • Chief Joseph Big Plume, who was the last hereditary chief to lead the Tsuut'ina, from 1920 to 1946.
  • Chief David Crowchild, the nation's first elected chief, who led from 1946 to 1952.
  • Chief Jim Starlight, who led from 1952 to 1966.
  • Chief Dick Big Plume, who was descended from Chief Bull Head and led from 1966 to 1970.
  • Chief Gordon Crowchild, who led from 1970 to 1976.

It places special emphasis on Starlight, who among other accomplishments negotiated with the federal government to establish a medicare program for all Indigenous Canadians, and for revenue from oil production on nation land, according to the nation's website.

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Council member LeeRoy Meguinis said it will be a world-class facility with more than just sports on offer. 

He said the sportsplex will be partnering with SAIT and Mount Royal University to allow students to train in the building's commercial kitchen and fitness facilities.

"Well, Calgary, we invite you to Tsuut'ina Nation, all Calgarians, all southern Albertans. We invite you to enjoy our facility, let's build friendships and relationships," he said. 

All of the building's amenities are now open to the public, and monthly memberships will be available soon.