First Nations in Treaty 7 scaling back participation in Calgary Stampede

Treaty 7 participation in one of the largest rodeos in the world is being scaled back because of the pandemic organizers say.

First Nations in Treaty 7 usually have a big role to play at the event.

From races, to pow wows and the teepee village, it’s a community that reunites once a year.

Violet Meguinis, from Tsuut’ina Nation and a member of the stampede’s First Nation events committee, said this year the events will be limited, the chuckwagon races have been cancelled, and so is the pow wow.

Twenty out of 26 teepees will be set up at the village. Meguinis said many teepee owners who are Elders, had to take a step back.

“So there’s not going to be a competition pow wow.”

But she said there will be extra precautions for those people who decide to come out.

“We’re stepping up the sanitizing of the camp, we split the teepees in to two groups. One group will be there for five days, the other will be there for the next 10 days,” she said.

Rapid testing will be available for volunteers and frontline workers and only half of the number of attendees will be allowed on stampede grounds.

Meguinis who is also an intergenerational teepee owner, said her family’s teepee has been at the stampede since 1912 when surrounding First Nations were asked to participate.

“A lot of our people weren’t able to leave the reserves with the permit system. You couldn’t practice your culture, you couldn’t do your dancing, your ceremonies. Everything was forbidden,” Meguinis said.

“We get involved because we want to honour our families. Our families persevered; they were involved in stampede all these years.”

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