Roy Whitney, Age: 60
Hometown: Calgary
Influential because: The ring road will be built

Building a road where once there stood only a blockade is no easy feat. Chief Roy Whitney did it though. Back in the 1930s, the Tsuu T’ina were pushed from their land by Ottawa during the construction of the Glenmore water reservoir. In response, for decades, the Tsuu T’ina blockaded Calgary’s desire to build a ring road through their reserve lands. In 2013, Chief Roy Whitney, who also served as chief from 1984 to 2001, finalized negotiations through a compromise with Calgary and Ottawa: the band will receive $275 million and 5,300 acres of new reserve lands. In exchange, Calgary gets access to the 1,000 acres needed for the road. The settlement also included $65 million from the province for housing and a $20-million payment from Ottawa to settle grievances from the 1930s.

Though Whitney inherited many years of work on the deal when he became chief, he successfully sold the deal to Tsuu T’ina voters. They endorsed it by majority (after voting against a similar deal in 2009) in November.