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Canada's only Indigenous pro rodeo returns to Buffalo Lake

Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement hosts second running of Gateway to the North pro rodeo
Saddle bronc, bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing ... all ready to roll for upcoming Buffalo Lake pro rodeo.

Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement is gearing up to host the second annual Gateway to the North Pro Rodeo, which will place at the community rodeo grounds on the May 24 weekend.  

The event is the only Indigenous pro rodeo in Canada. 

Malcolm Auger is a member of the Buffalo Lake recreation society, which helps to organize the rodeo in conjunction with other organizations, including C5 Rodeo.  

The Métis community’s first pro rodeo, which took place last May, Auger said, went very well, with all entries filled for every event, as well as an excellent turnout of people.   

 “Last year, over the two days… the Saturday, Sunday… we probably had 2,000 people,” he told Lakeland This Week.  

Organizers are hoping to match or beat that number this year. Entries for the events have also seen an increase.  So far, there have been roughly 200 entries, Auger continued, adding that competitors in each category can win cash prizes.   

Stay the night 

The new rodeo grounds, along Highway 855 about 50 kilometres south of Lac La Biche, can accommodate daily parking and overnight camping for the three-day event. 

Tickets, he said, can be purchased at the gate. A two-day pass that includes overnight camping is available for $100. 

In addition to exciting rodeo events, the second annual Gateway to the North will also include nightly local musical entertainment. On Friday, Justin Sutton and North of 49 will perform. This concert will be followed by shows on Saturday by the Blackeyed Creez and Kyle Desjarlais & Company. There is also a concert on Sunday featuring C.C. High Ryder.  

“We try to be local,” Auger said, explaining that the four bands coming for Friday, Saturday and Sunday all have local content.  

Long rodeo history 

The current rodeo experience is an evolution of the decades-long tradition that has been taking place at the settlement. The new rodeo grounds, built just two years ago with the help of community support and government funding, are a big step up from the old rodeo grounds. The new site is a better fit for rodeo fans and offers a better feel for higher calibre of events and riders.  

“Our old location was not in a good spot…especially if there was bad weather…rainy, muddy,” he said, adding that the amateur rodeos that took place for two decades in Buffalo Lake were good – but being able to bring professionals to the community to showcase their skills and abilities has been much better.  

Auger said the Gateway to the North Pro Rodeo is not only a good show, but it’s a major social event that brings people together from near and far. 

“It brings our community together,” he said. “We have different events throughout the year, and this is one of the bigger ones.” 

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