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Whoop-Up Days 2022 to feature traditional Indigenous events

Whoop-Up Days 2022 to feature traditional Indigenous events

The Princess Pageant will see contestants compete for the title of Miss Siksikaitsitapi on August 23, with the winner announced at the Pow Wow on August 24. Contestants will be invited to compete in Tiny Tots, Junior and Senior categories. The winner will represent Lethbridge & District Exhibition and the Blackfoot Confederacy as an ambassador throughout the year.

Contestants in the pageant will be featured in the Whoop-Up Days Parade, and will be scored on their essay submission, speech, dance and talent showcase.

The Lethbridge & District Pro Rodeo will feature intense daily competitions of Warrior Relay Races, with a total of $20,000 purse prize winnings. Participants ride horses bareback and jump from one horse to the next in laps around the racetrack, with two transfers per race.

Mike Warkentin, Lethbridge & District Exhibition Chief Executive Officer said, “This is something that we’ve been working on for over a year.”

“It’s the first step in what we hope to be a really fantastic, much expanded partnership with the Blackfoot Confederacy as we prepare to open the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre here, really in the heart of Blackfoot territory.”

Warkentin said Lethbridge & District Exhibition wanted to strengthen the relationship between the community, the organization and First Nations in Southern Alberta.

He noted that, “Indigenous culture has been a piece of our programming dating back right to the beginning with some of the world champion rodeo athletes, Pow Wow contestants, we had Indigenous boxing champions competing in the South Pavilion.”

“It’s been a piece of what we do here at Lethbridge & District Exhibition for 125 years, and so, reintroducing this element of our programming was an incredibly important piece to us, as I say, to showcase the entire community and also welcome people from around the world to experience a really important piece of Southern Alberta.”

Warkentin commented that the Pow Wow specifically is a “true cultural experience that you really can’t get anywhere else.” He added that going forward, Lethbridge & District Exhibition is focused on growing its partnership with the Blackfoot Confederacy significantly.

“Blackfoot culture has always been a piece of our history and we want to ensure that it’s a strong piece of our history for the next 125 years,” Warkentin said.

Dancers showcasing traditional Pow Wow dancing on Thursday, July 7 2022. (Lethbridge News Now)

Kirby Smith, Intergovernmental Relations with the Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council joined Warkentin on stage to touch on the significant announcement Thursday morning.

Smith said, “Throughout the summer, there’s always major celebrations that go on in each of our communities and so, to have that same kind of a format, that kind of a platform here in Lethbridge, is very significant for us and we’re more than thrilled to be part of the planning and more than thrilled to be part of the events that are going to take place during that week.”

He thanked Warkentin for reaching out to the Confederacy to work towards the partnership and touched on the importance of the Princess Pageant.

Smith said, “The pageant is very significant in the sense that what we’re doing is we’re creating ambassadors for the Lethbridge & District Exhibition and these ambassadors will reign for a whole year and will represent this organization and will represent our partnership at other events and other Pow Wows and celebrations throughout Southern Alberta, but certainly throughout other areas as well.”

Smith commented that this partnership carries added significance following a year where reconciliation was in focus across the entire country.

He said, “This partnership that we’re dealing with now is really a hallmark relationship and it’s one I think that really represents the efforts of communities like Lethbridge, more specifically communities like Lethbridge & District Exhibition, and them reaching out to the Blackfoot Confederacy and to our communities at all levels, to come in and really make a proud statement that this is something that is going to be welcoming, it’s going to be open and very participatory.”

Whoop-Up Days 2022 is on from August 23 to 27, 2022. The kick-off parade festivities will take place August 23 at 9:00 a.m. with marshals Chief Roy Fox of the Kainai Nation, Chief Stanley Grier from the Piikani Nation and Chief Ouray Crowfoot of the Siksika Nation.

More information about the festival, as well as the Indigenous cultural events taking place in Lethbridge, are available at the Whoop-Up days website.

READ MORE: Whoop-Up Days 2022 kicking off with return of parade & rodeo