By John Watson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Siksika Nation’s Alayiah Wolf Child has been crowned the Calgary Stampede’s 2023 First Nations Princess, joining Springbank’s Sarah Lambros, her Stampede Princess counterpart.
Wolf Child explained this is her first time venturing into a competition of this type and is thrilled to wear the crown for the upcoming year.
“I’m really excited. I was nervous at first, but I think the nerves have finally settled down and I am just really excited for what is to come next,” she said. “My best friend is actually a princess alumnus, and so she motivated me to step out of my comfort zone and challenge my own social anxiety.”
For Wolf Child, significant involvement with the Calgary Stampede runs deep into her family history.
“I wanted to fulfill the family’s legacy that runs as far back as my great-grandfather, who was a rider in the rodeo. I just wanted to leave my little sprinkle of Alayiah to the family history.”
The Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess contest involved public speaking, attending social events, as well as performing a dance, among other elements.
Wolf Child and Lambros described their respective competitions as bearing likeness to an extremely extended and complex job interview.
Regarding the Stampede, Wolf Child added she is proud to be representing her culture and helping to share the identity of First Nations with not only those who attend July’s main event, but also at events where Stampede royalty are requested to attend.
“I will be present in the Elbow River camp and sharing my knowledge about the different dances of Treaty Seven, along with the three different languages of Treaty Seven,” she explained. “We will also be making appearances with the Grandstand show and be able to watch the Indian Relay Races, which I am really excited for.”
As a dancer, Wolf Child said she specializes in women’s jingle dress dancing, though also has some knowledge of women’s traditional dancing through her mother.
For other young Indigenous women who are curious about the competition or who may have an interest in giving it a try, her recommendation was to take their shot and throw their hat in the ring.
“Go for it and pass down your knowledge towards the next generation, and hopefully we can continue sharing our knowledge with the world and try hard,” she said. “I hope for all these little girls who look up to Stampede royalty to chase after their dream and make it a reality one day. It is also a lot of fun.”
John Watson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the STRATHMORE TIMES. The LJI program is federally funded.