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Alayiah Wolf Child selected 2023 Stampede First Nations Princess

The Calgary Stampede has a new 2023 First Nations Princess.

Alayiah Wolf Child, 24, a member of the Siksika First Nation, won over judges during the final round of competition on Sunday to claim the title.

“When they announced my name, it just felt like I was dreaming,” she said.

“You know when you first step into Disney World and it’s like the most magical place on earth, it’s is exactly how I felt—it was overwhelming.”

For the upcoming year, Wolf Child said that she wants to share the culture and history of the Treaty 7 people. A story, she said, that is reflective of all of the Indigenous groups in Southern Alberta.

“To be an ambassador is to have the opportunity to share this knowledge with all walks of life, and to continue to build this long lasting relationship that we, the tribes of Treaty 7, have built with the Calgary Stampede,” Wolf Child said.

During her competition speech, she said that she had the opportunity to learn about the Stampede’s efforts to promote First Nations culture, and to include First Nations people from the first Stampede.

“Guy Weadick saw the beauty in our culture, and sought to help preserve and maintain our traditions acknowledge and value during,” Wolf Child said.

“The ongoing tradition has allowed our communities to showcase their traditional knowledge and our artistry. The initiative was the beginning of the bridge being built between two great communities.”

The competition was the third attempt for Wolf Child.

“I wasn’t expecting anything… I wanted to learn from my past mistakes and try again.”

She pointed to 2022’s First Nation Princess Sikapinakii Low Horn as an inspiration to continue to vie for the role as an ambassador for the Calgary Stampede.

Stampede First Nations Princess on Sunday, November 27, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Big shoes to fill as ambassador

Calgary Stampede President and Board Chair Steve McDonough said that he was proud of the long term relationship the organization has had with members of Treaty 7.

“Reconciliation is part of our DNA, with a relationship that goes back before 1912,” he said.

“We do by acting. This isn’t something new for us, and it’s just something that is part of our DNA, so I’m proud of that.”

Wolf Child will be stepping into a role that was largely shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic, a realignment of Calgary Stampede values by reducing the number of Stampede Royalty positions, and the work done by Low Horn and outgoing Stampede Princess Jenna Peters.

She will be joined by 2023 Stampede Princess Sarah Lambros.

“As we redeploy the Calgary Stampede to be what it is and future proof it, the royalty and our royal royalty ambassadors have to be set up to represent or our organization, and I think it wasn’t by accident that we had Jenna and Sikapinakii as a duo,” McDonough said.

“The experiment was absolutely successful, and I think it works for both the Elbow River Camp and the Calgary Stampede to be represented equally.”

McDonough said that Sunday’s competition was representative of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to set up for a successful July.

“It’s the start of next year’s Stampede, and that’s what’s exciting about it.”