FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Doig River First Nation held its first rodeo in three years this past weekend to bring communities together in the Peace region.
The three-day event took place from July 28th to July 30th on Doig River rodeo grounds, featuring events such as saddle bronc, bareback riding, bull riding, and junior events, along with open ranch bronc riding.
In saddle bronc, participants stay on bucking horses for eight seconds using a special saddle. Bareback riding involves gripping a rigging strap without a saddle while the horse bucks.
These thrilling events test the riders’ courage, skill, and ability to maintain control. At the same time, the animals try to buck them off, inspiring the participants to engage and retain their balance.
Doig River councillor Garry Oker said the rodeo is rooted in First Nation people’s connection with nature. He believes that the Doig River rodeo has become an iconic cultural event in northeast B.C. and continues to grow each year it’s held.
“Organizing the Doig River rodeo event is our way of paying respects to Elders and introducing our youth to the rodeo,” said Oker.
The event also had dry meat-cutting stalls and the doig drummers performing their traditional drumming, with Oker also singing some Beaver songs.
Justin Davis, community economic development manager at Doig, said rodeos signify the First Nations’ spiritual connection with animals. He feels that organizing events like these creates harmony between people and the environment.
“Doig River rodeo fosters a sense of pride in preserving our historical Dane-zaa traditions for future generations,” said Davis.
Davis said the return of rodeo to Doig was a welcomed and exciting opportunity.
“It was great to see the old friends with their families come out to Doig and have a good time, especially with the weather improving recently.”
According to the Doig River First Nation website, the 50-year-old event started off small with two rodeo chutes and a few boys riding cows. Now, it draws over 100 competitors from British Columbia and Alberta.