The Stampede Whisperer: Words to Live By

The Calgary Stampede is winding down for another year.One last weekend of cowboy hats, sore feet, late nights and, of course, mini-donuts.Then life returns to its normal rhythm. As the smell of pancakes and sausages fade off for another year, it’s a great time to reflect on your Stampede experience. Did you meet new friends, learn a new line dance, volunteer in your community? The Stampede isn’t all booze and broncos. It’s an athletic exhibition, cultural exposition and community celebration. The Stampede is one of the few times each year that I pause to visit with my neighbours. Enjoy a BBQ or a pancake at our local community centre. Share stories of summer plans and hopeful journeys. Wish everyone well before going off in different directions for our summer adventures.

This year the moment that most hangs in my memory is a simple one. I was at the Stampede Indian Village 1grounds this past Wednesday for our annual Kids’ Day adventure. My wife had been to a pancake breakfast earlier in the week where they hi-lited the Indian Village and, in particular, the Pow Wow. She said we should go. It’s not an area that we have visited for any length of time in past Stampedes. This year we made a point.

pow wow is a Native gathering. Derived from the word powwaw, meaning “spiritual leader”, a pow wow has a special significance. It’s a celebration of life where the people of many Nations meet to dance, sing, socialize, and honor their cultures.

The pow wow was a welcome diversion from the flurry of our Kids’ Day activities. We escaped from the midway grounds to find some open space in the grass in front of the bleachers at the top of the hill that looked down uPow Wow Stagepon the Pow Wow stage.
Adorned with colourful costumes, kids of a various ages demonstrated the traditional dances of their people. Communities of drummers sat shoulder to shoulder around a single drum beating out the guiding rhythms. Each person bringing their own unique interpretation, here and now, to dances and songs that have been performed through the ages.


“Dance your style,” the announcer called. “Come on everyone. Join the dancers. Join the celebration. Dance your style. No one will laugh. No one will make fun. Come and dance your style.”Dance Your Style

These words stood out for me. They expanded beyond the call to the pow wow stage, ringing out as an invitation to live, to “Dance your Style”.  Ask yourself, are you brave enough to dance? Do you move through life in your own way. Do you celebrate your difference or do you try to do what is expected, maintaining the status quo and fitting in. “Dance your style.” Move through life your way.

The dance of your life is as original as the swirls on your thumb. Who have you touched? Where have you left a legacy of prints? Everyday you have the opportunity to make a difference. Everyday is a chance to leave a positive reminder, marking your existence. “Come on…Dance your style.”

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