A painting of the late Tsilhqot’in bull rider Bruce Myers is featured on the 2022 Williams Lake Stampede poster.
Last week on social media the Williams Lake Stampede Association announced it had selected the image, which was painted by local artist Tiffany Jorgensen.
Bruce died in Nov. 22, 2021, of cancer at the age of 50.
His wife Crystal Myers Lulua said before he died Bruce agreed the painting could be submitted for a Stampede poster contest and if Jorgensen’s was picked, the winnings would go toward a charity of his choice.
“Bruce would have felt honoured to have his painting of him on the Stampede poster,” Crystal said.
Bruce was from Yunesit’in (Stone) Government and lived in Williams Lake.
Bull riding was his favourite sport and was one of the things he looked forward to every summer, his daughter Faith Myers said.
“He got on his first bull at the age of 14 and started to slow down once his children were born.”
Bruce would attend three to four rodeos a weekend if he could because he loved the sport so much and constantly trained, whether he was running, riding his horse bareback, or curling a chainsaw.
Faith noted like most bull riders, her dad encountered many injuries, a few of them were even life-threatening.
“In 1990 he made it to the high school finals in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where he sustained one of his worst injuries. The bull stepped on him and lacerated his liver, but it didn’t take long before he was right back on his next bull.”
Known as a “respectable man, good role model to his children, and youth in the community,” Bruce was outgoing and kind, smart and funny.
“He was competitive in any sport he played, he hated losing,” Faith recalled. “Especially when it came to bull riding. He made sure everyone was trying their best, even if he was a little hard on you, he always meant well.”
Always proud of his children Faith and Jace, he loved watching them play sports.
“He was an amazing father, husband, and son,” Faith noted, adding he took in Crystal’s daughters – Rayne and Electra – like one of his own.
Unfortunately, Bruce was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer in the fall of 2021, not the news that anybody expected to hear, as he showed no symptoms.
“Even in his toughest moments, he still fought with everything he had,” Faith said.
One of his wishes was to marry Crystal who is a Tsilhqot’in from Xeni Gwet’in.
They did marry on Oct. 31, 2021, at Cariboo Memorial Hospital and he passed away less than a month later on Nov. 22, 2021.
Picking the winner
Jorgensen’s painting was one of nine submissions to the poster contest.
“In April 2021, Bruce came into our Cariboo Art Beat studio and asked me do a painting of his daughter on a horse and of himself bull riding,” Jorgensen said of how the painting came about.
Something that still makes Jorgensen shake her head, is that the day a friend called her to remind her the WLSA was calling for submissions for the poster, Jorgensen mentioned the painting of Bruce.
It was during that phone conversation she learned Bruce had died that morning.
Caterina Poffenroth, social media, poster and merchandise coordinator for the WLSA, said after going through the submissions, she and another poster committee member Kayla Jasper narrowed the entries to five contenders.
“We presented the board with two photos and three paintings to vote on,” Poffenroth said.
With her entry, Jorgensen included the story of Bruce’s passing away, and the fact they had agreed if it won she would donate the prize money to a charity his family chose.
WLSA general manager Amber Nustad said Jorgensen’s entry was “overwhelmingly” chosen by the board.
The poster has now gone to the printers and once the posters are available to purchase the WLSA will let the public know.
Jorgensen said the original painting is 15 inches by 20 inches.
It is her second submission chosen as hers was the 2019 poster image as well.
“The Stampede is such a big part of our community and it is such a cool feeling to have my design on the poster, knowing it goes everywhere,” she said.