A favourite at Stampede time, the Xeni Gwet’in Youth Wagon Trip is back in the saddle for 2022.
Planning is underway for the 13th annual wagon trip to the Williams Lake Stampede by horse back and horse drawn wagons after organizers were forced to cancel the last two years due to COVID-19.
This year the trip is expected to start on June 23, 2022 at the community’s newly acquired Nemiah Valley Lodge (formerly Elkins Creek Lodge) on Thursday, June 23.
The wagon trip will proceed to the Williams Lake Stampede via the Nemiah Valley Road (900 Road/Taseko Road), over to Big Creek Road, and then to Highway 20. The journey will see the group make their way through the majestic Farwell Canyon and ride across the towering Sheep Creek Bridge over the Fraser River.
After one week on the trail the group will arrive in town Thursday, June 30, 2022 just in time for the Williams Lake Stampede where they will be part of the grand entry. The group participates in the annual Stampede Parade that usually runs on Saturday morning before the day’s Stampede performance.
Xeni is thrilled to have Roy and Gwen Mulvahill back to be the wagon team leaders.
Xeni Gwet’in First Nation Chief Jimmy Lulua started the Xeni Gwet’in Youth Wagon Trip as a way to reconnect the community’s youth with horses and also revive a tradition of First Nations people making their way to town for the Stampede many years ago.
Lulua’s vision is for his people to be healthy and physically active with a strong economy built upon by the historic Supreme Court William Rights and Title decision.
The youth wagon trip hasn’t been without its challenges. On June 27, 2017 a run-away horse and wagon carrying several elders went off the road and down a steep embankment on the south side of Farwell Canyon. The wreck sent some elders to hospital and one horse did not survive, however, thankfully no lives were lost.
For this year’s trip, dates are set for monthly planning meetings, fundraisers, trip details and updates can be found on the “Xeni Gwet’in Wagon Trip” Facebook page. Registration forms will be available online.