The grand opening for the Dakota Dunes Resort and Casino hotel took place Thursday morning.

The complex is located on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation.

The ribbon-cutting event was attended by a number of high-profile officials including Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron and Indigenous Services Canada regional director general Rob Harvey.

The virtual event was also streamed on Facebook Live as the number of in-person attendees was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ceremonial ribbon was cut by community elder and artist behind the Whitecap Dakota First Nation’s logo – 90-year-old Willis Royal.

Whitecap Councillor Dalyn Bear served as master of ceremonies for the event.

He told the audience the new hotel will create added opportunities for members of the First Nation.

“This vision came from our chief and our leadership, so we wanted to take this to our nation,” he said. “We wanted to build jobs, we wanted to create hope, we wanted to create opportunities for our people.”

Chief Cameron echoed Bear’s sentiments.

“This is the vision of many chiefs to leave hope and opportunity for the future when we leave this world so the generations and generations and generations will continue to live and prosper,” he said.

Whitecap Chief Darcy Bear thanked all organizations and community members who helped in the project, which was constructed over a two-year period.

Bear also reflected on Canada’s Indian Act that has historically prevented Indigenous people from participating in the country’s economy.

“It put us on these small tracks of land called reservations, kept us out of sight and out of mind while other Canadian citizens had the opportunity to build their infrastructure, their economies, their jobs, their hope and then their opportunities,” he said. “Well, we as Indigenous peoples want to take our rightful place and be a part of the economy and that’s what we’re doing here today.”

The hotel has 155 guestrooms and an indoor pool.

While the complex is open in a limited capacity, for the time being, the First Nation says it looks forward to being able to have the hotel fully open once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

(PHOTO: Whitecap Dakota Chief Darcy Bear at the grand opening of the new Dakota Dunes Resort and Casino hotel on Thursday. Photo by Sam Campling.)