Special to the Tribune/Weekend Advisor
The Eighth Annual Xeni Gwet’in Wagon Trip, spanning eight days from the Nemiah Valley to Williams Lake for Stampede, gets underway this Thursday, June 23.
The Xeni Gwet’in Youth Wagon Trip was started in 2009 under the reins of Jimmy and June Lulua.
At the time they were youth workers for Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government and are now both attending university and volunteer their time for the annual wagon trip).
Seven days of the trip takes place on horseback, driving wagons and moving camp with an extra day rest half ways through the trip.
The 2016 Youth Wagon Trip Departure Dates (new route) are as follows:
• June 23 leave from Konni Lake Beach — arrive at Seymour Draw
• June 24 leave from Seymour Draw — arrive at 33 km Popcorn Cabin
• June 25-26 leave from 33 km Popcorn Cabin — arrive at Big Creek Hall
• June 27 leave from Big Creek Hall — arrive at Sugarcane Jacks
• June 28 leave from Sugarcane Jacks — arrive at Farwell
• June 29 leave from Farewell — arrive at Meldrum Creek
• June 30 leave from Meldrum — arrive at Williams Lake Stampede Grounds at 5:30 p.m.
Because this is a youth trip, guidelines are set each year which are followed. A few guidelines:
• No drugs/alcohol/smoking
• No violence
• No concealed weapons
• No gambling
• No electronic devices (iPods, gaming devices, etc.)
• No dogs (house dogs only – small dogs)
• You must bring your own horse and tack
• Horses need to be shoed all around
• Be responsible for the care of your horse, feeding, watering, saddling your own horse, etc.
• Everyone must participate in camp cleanup and chores
• Camp curfew is 10:30 p.m., lights out at 11 p.m.
• Must be up and ready to leave on time in the mornings
• Youth must not leave camp without speaking to chaperone
On the trail:
• All riders must listen to the trail boss
• All riders must stay on the chosen trail (no shortcuts or detours)
• If you must stop, inform a trail boss or chaperone before stopping
Throughout the year fundraisers are held in the form of loonie auctions and dinner sales to raise funds for the annual trip. Participants and community members donate prizes to be auctioned off. Wagon trip committee members, as well as community members, volunteer their time at the fundraisers which are quite successful. Most fundraisers have funds from $1,000 to $2,500 raised. Committee meetings are held monthly to ensure that the trip will be successful.
Committee members include: Annie S. William (president), David Setah (vice-president), Brenda Lulua (secretary). Trail bosses during the wagon trip are: Dennis Lulua, Gene Cooper and Jimmy Lulua.
First aid attendant during the trip: Betty Lulua.
Camp cooks include: Seraphine William, Kim Gillaspie and Don Gillaspie.
Wagon drivers are: Roy and Gwen Mulvahill, Jimmy Lulua and Annie S. William (three wagons), Randy and Kristy Saugstad (one wagon) and Tom Hodgson (one wagon) .
For 2016 there are more than 100 people registered. Registrants consist of youth that have been as young as a few months old to elders in their 70s.
Registration is required to ensure that the camp cooks purchase enough food and cook enough food for everyone that will be on the trip. One wagon is reserved for elders, with the remainder filled with members and children who are not riding horse. Throughout the trip members switch on and off riding and riding in the wagon if there are members who do not have horses on the trip.
We would like to continue to thank the truck drivers along the Big Creek/Farwell Road and Highway 20 for slowing down and safely passing the wagon train.
As well, a huge thank you to the entire community of Xeni for the generous support. Without your continued support at our fundraisers, they wouldn’t be so successful. Thank you to Roy and Gwen Mulvahill for being part of our trip over the years, and thank you to Seraphine William, Don and Kim Gillaspie for your continued support of the wagon trip.