The 19th annual Tl’etinqox horse and bike ride along Highway 20 will depart Saturday, June 25 in advance of the Williams Lake Stampede.
“We ride for The Lost Loved Ones, the 215 and 93 children,” is the theme of this year’s ride, referring to the probes underway of unmarked graves at the former Kamloops and St. Joseph’s Mission residential school sites.
Traditionally the riders wear red, but on the last day as they enter Williams Lake Wednesday, June 29, they will be wearing orange.
After having to postpone the ride in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tl’etinqox First Nation Chief Joe Alphonse said he is excited for all the young people who will be participating in the ride.
“We encourage our youth to be active and this is one way of doing that.”
Youth from Tl’etinqox First Nation andYunesit’in First Nation will be participating along with supporting adults, community leaders and members.
Alphonse said he plans to ride for the first few days.
While some people are still leery of the pandemic, community members have been cooped up and are looking forward to the ride and the Stampede, he added.
“Tl’etinqox and Yunesit’in horse and bike rider are ecstatic that they will ride again with our members and guests, especially the ancestors that will be joining us as we make our way as they did many many years ago,” said Tl’etinqox Coun. Melanie Johnny, is one of the organizers, noting excitement is in the air as the planning group met each week to finalize details to make this a ride to remember.
After registration beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, the horse riders will depart at 9 a.m. from the Tl’etinqox government office en route to the River Ranch turnoff to set up camp.
The bike riders will depart at 11 a.m.
On Sunday, June 26, the riders will head for Jack Palmantier’s Homestead where they will camp for two nights and enjoy a bike rodeo and gymkhana on Monday, June 27.
The riders will then depart Tuesday, June 28 and travel the Meldrum Creek Road where Yunesit’in First Nation will host the evening event at the camp site there.
For the final day, Wednesday, June 29, the ride will proceed to Williams Lake.
Anyone wanting to cheer the riders on as they enter the city from Highway 20 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. is encouraged to do so.
Crediting his cousin the late Roland Alphonse for initiating the ride two decades ago, Alphonse said the ride is a great way to do some horse training with youth.
“Ronald had about 80 horse of his own and he called on friends and family to get involved with the ride.”
Along the way everyone enjoys sharing stories and the youth like camping under the stars, Alphonse added.
“Everyone looks forward to being together each evening. For some of the kids, it’s the only time they get to go camping.”
The riders will also participate in the Williams Lake Stampede Parade, Saturday July 2.