With Tsuut’ina store, Costco opens its first location on a Canadian First Nation

The new Costco on the Tsuut'ina Nation is set to open this Friday. It will be the seventh Calgary-area location and the first location on a First Nations in North America. Thursday, August 27, 2020.

When shoppers arrive at the Calgary area’s newest Costco store, they’ll be partly guided by signage in the Sarcee tongue.

That’s because the wholesaler’s outlet on the Tsuut’ina reserve is its first on a First Nation in Canada.

The company and the Tsuut’ina say it’s a major step forward in realizing a long-awaited development of the First Nation’s

Taza retail, office and tourism district

, which is linked into the Stoney Trail ring road being constructed on Calgary’s western edge.

It’s also helping build bridges between the First Nation and Calgarians, said Tsuut’ina Chief Roy Whitney.

“We welcome Costco to Tsuut’ina, and look forward to strengthening our relationship with our neighbours and encourage them to celebrate the inception of Taza with us,” said Whitney.

“It’s an honour to be the home of the first Costco on Indigenous land. Today is a momentous day for both the Nation and for southwest Calgary.”

The 151,000-square-foot store at 12905 Buffalo Run Blvd. — Costco’s seventh in the Calgary area — is also a boost for Tsuut’ina employment.

A June job fair led to 68 of 88 job positions at the store being filled by First Nation residents.

Those employees will be serving customers in a store infused with the spirit of its surroundings — landscaping and foliage inside and outside the store that simulates the Tsuut’ina’s foothills home.

 The new Costco on the Tsuut’ina Nation is set to open this Friday. It will be the seventh Calgary-area location and the first location on a First Nations in Canada. Thursday, August 27, 2020.

The opportunity to develop the three-pronged, $4.5-billion, 500-hectare Taza complex was paved by a $340.7-million payment from the province to the Tsuut’ina in exchange for land to complete Calgary’s 101-kilometre ring road.

It’s expected to be built over a span of two decades and is one of a number of major economic development projects launched by First Nations across the country in an effort to re-assert themselves within Canada.

Costco’s senior vice-president of Western Canada, David Skinner, said: “We are excited to be working with the Tsuut’ina Nation at Taza, and to be able to give our valued members, businesses and the surrounding community the advantage of shopping locally.”

Costco officials also say the new warehouse will take the pressure of its Deerfoot Meadows outlet, which was the only one in Calgary’s South.

That Costco warehouse is a cornerstone that adds momentum to the development of the Taza complex, said its developers.

“The official opening of southwest Calgary Costco validates that Taza is open for business,” said William Briscoe, CEO of Taza Development Corp.

“Because of the collective efforts between Taza Development Corp. and Costco, we have been able to secure a leading anchor tenant to provide various employment opportunities, even as we navigate through these current economic times.”

 The new Costco on the Tsuut’ina Nation is set to open this Friday. It will be the seventh Calgary-area location and the first location on a First Nations in Canada. Thursday, August 27, 2020.

But that progress hasn’t always been easy.

In 2018, some residents of the neighbouring Lakeview community raised objections over the planned access to Taza, concerned over traffic and other effects the development will have on their neighbourhood.

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