The Calgary Stampede is a world-famous event that celebrates true Canadian heritage. Talking with the Stampede’s Indian Princess was, therefore, a necessity…
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do…
My name is Vanessa Stiffarm and I’m 25 years old from the Kainai Nation. When I decided to run for this role, I did it for my youngest sister. I want to be someone she looks up to and be a positive role model for her. I want her to know she can do anything because I’ll always be there to support her. She’s still my reason to do my best each day and to never give up.
What was it like growing up in Alberta?
I find southern Alberta to be a beautiful place. We lived on the plains but we were only an hour away from the mountains. So when we wanted to smell the fresh pine trees, it was only a short drive away. I spent my summers swimming in the river next to my grandparents place and when winter would come, we would be outside sledding. It’s the best of both worlds for me.
What does it mean to you to be crowned an Indian Princess?
I represent the Calgary Stampede, the Indian Village and Treaty 7 of Alberta. I’m very honoured to have this title and be a role model for the youth. I encourage kids to do their best, try hard in school, and be true to themselves. I let them know that hard work does pay off and that each of them can be successful in anything they choose. I believe it only takes one person to believe in you and let you know you can reach the moon.
Tell us a little bit about your heritage…
My mom is from the Kainai Nation and my dad is from the White Clay People. I learned to a lot from both of them from being on the PowWow trail since I was a baby. I’ve been dancing since I was very young, learned the different styles of dancing, what each one of them meant, to always help out the elders and young ones. My dad was a singer for Dry Lake and taught me the different styles of songs he sings. My mom was a jingle dress dancer and encouraged me to always do my best when I danced. I was raised traditionally by my parents and to always be proud of who I am and where I come from. My grandparents, who are also from the Kainai Nation, helped raise me and taught me more of my cultural ways; that we all have a role in the lives we lead and to be respectful to everyone, to thank the Creator for the life I have, and to always help others.
The Calgary Stampede is often referred to as one of the best celebrations in the world, why do you think this is?
I believe that the Calgary Stampede is the one of the best celebrations in the world because it celebrates western heritage, culture and traditions. There is something for everyone – the rodeo & chuckwagon races daily, the Indian Village where Treaty 7 hosts a daily powwow, native crafts, games and opens their teepees to the public, agricultural displays, western art & crafts, a variety of carnival foods, and of course midway rides for everyone to enjoy. You can enjoy the Calgary Stampede with your family or friends, just being on the grounds or in the Indian Village. There is always something new to do every day during the Stampede. It’s one event that I try attending at least once a day when it is Stampede time.
Why do you think Calgary is such a special city?
It’s a very diverse and friendly city. You can meet people of every culture just by walking down Stephen Avenue, taste different kinds of food as well and experience activities during both winter and summer with the mountains only a short drive away. It’s my home and as the 2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, a place I love to represent while I meet others during my year.
If we only had a day in Calgary, what should we do?
I suggest that you see the Calgary Tower, store and dine on Stephen Avenue, and if you can catch a Flames hockey game at the Saddledome. This city has such an excitement about their hockey team that it becomes contagious.
What do you love to do in your spare time?
I love to be with my family or friends during my spare time. I love food, so eating and catching up is one way I like to pass the time. And also being there for my sister. To me nothing is better than being surrounded by people you love.
Alberta is a place of wonderful contrasts; do you think it’s important to experience both the urban and the rural sides of the province?
Yes I do because it gives you more of an appreciation for both the rural and urban sides and you meet so many diverse people as well. It’s always good to go beyond your boundaries and learn more about what your province offers. The more you learn, the more you understand the world we live in.
Finally – describe Alberta in just three words…
Beautiful, unique, and comfy
VANESSA’S TOP 5
Visit the Calgary Tower
Dine on Stephen Avenue
Watch a hockey game at the Saddledome
Come for the Calgary Stampede!
Immerse yourself in First-Nations culture