Rodeo clinic, ranch visit entertains First Nations youth and elders in B.C.’s Interior

Bucking broncs and an outdoor barbecue seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for a group of First Nation youth in B.C.’s Interior who have been feeling isolated since the novel coronavirus was declared a public health emergency in March.

Close to 40 children, youth, and elders of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe/Dog Creek) travelled more than 150 kilometres from their homes in the south Chilcotin to the C+ Rodeos’ 1,000-acre ranch on Horsefly Road near 150 Mile House under sunny skies on Wednesday, July 29. It was Stswecem’c Xgat’tem’s first event since COVID-19 shut down schools and prompted Indigenous leaders to limit visitors into their community.

“We wanted something where families could take part because it’s been a trying time with the coronavirus,” said youth support worker Sandra Archie, noting their health manager Judith Rietveld served as the main organizer of the event.

“This is a great idea because most of the kids’ ancestors or family from years ago have ridden. It seems to be a dying art —the local rodeos and cowboys.”

Read More: First Nation health centre to capture compassionate co-existence between horses and humans

Rietveld said she had noticed a lack of engagement between their youth even with their virtual events prior to attending the ranch.

“This I’m hoping will give them a little bit more excitement and engagement and interest using what we have where we are.”

The all-day event saw attendees participate in a tour of the ranch followed by a small convention rodeo.

Roy Call, one of the owners of C+ Plus Rodeos, who are in the business of providing rodeo stock, said it has been strange summer for them as there had not been a single week of the season where they had not rodeoed within their 35 years of business.

Read More: COVID19: 94th Williams Lake Stampede officially cancelled for 2020 due to pandemic

“For us to spend a summer sitting at home it has been completely new to us,” he said.

Despite feeling lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the cancellation of all BCRA and CPRA rodeo events across the country, including the Williams Lake Stampede, Roy said it was great to show the small group what the ranch and their work is all about.

“We can’t educate people enough about what we do.”

Call said he’s hopeful about the future of rodeo and believes it will make a full comeback once the pandemic is over.

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