5 key take-aways from the Calgary Stampede
Updated: Jul 17
1. Sometimes things are not what they seem:
Despite looking directly at me and tipping his hat, Jeremy never saw me in the parade stands. This fact has become one of the most hilarious moments of our Stampede memories.
As the film crew took slow motion pictures of me blowing kisses at my husband and cut to his adorable, hat-tipping response in my direction, no real eye contact was made.
It's quite funny, actually!
In this picture, Jeremy was showing his respect to the incredible people I was sitting with including Minister François-Philippe Champagne, President of the Canadian Space Agency Lisa Campbell, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and numerous other VIPs. But Jeremy has been branded with an "honesty gene" that means he cannot lie and immediately admitted that he did not see me and we haven't stopped laughing about it since.
2. The seeds of reconciliation continue to germinate on the ground at Elbow River Camp:
"Each July, Treaty 7 First Nations gather at Elbow River Camp for the Calgary Stampede. Families set up teepees and camp on the grounds for the whole week, educating, teaching and demonstrating their traditional ways for guests."
The represented nations are: Kainai, Nakoda, Piikani, Siksika, Tsuut’ina
I highly recommend you read this article in Avenue Calgary Magazine for a historic look at the meaning behind these relationships, peoples and location.
It was my absolute honour to observe the official opening of Elbow River Camp for Stampede 2023 and meet the families who have cared for Treaty 7 lands for generations.
It was especially beautiful to meet and talk with the First Nations Princess Alayiah Wolf Child
Most profound for me was the way she acknowledged me for my contribution to Jeremy's life and his role at the Stampede and welcomed me to Treaty 7 lands.
She prayed for my time on the lands to be blessed with good fortune, safety, happiness, enjoyment and a really good time.
With Mother Earth as our nurturer and guide the Stampede grounds have provided a century of connection, relationship building and enjoyment for Canadians.
My hope is that we continue to see the land in a reciprocal relationship, as our Indigenous brothers and sisters have for so long. We owe it to Mother Earth and our children to become more cognizant of the ways we can give back to her and to each other. Imagine if we treated Mother Earth and each other the way we want to be treated, all the time? That would be paradise and I believe that is possible.
3. Important conversations happen in the least likely places:
Pictured here: US Consul General Holly Waeger Monster (who hosted us at her home, the U.S. Consulate, for a pre-stampede party), myself, Minister Champagne, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, CSA President Lisa Campbell and Stampede President's spouse Lisa Osler and Stampede President Will Osler.
I had the incredible opportunity to continue conversations about Canada's expanding role in space, United States-Canada collaboration and the sense of hope, unity and optimism that has become an integral part of the Artemis II Mission. Every interaction was filled with purpose, enthusiasm and shared vision for a better tomorrow, not just Canadians, but for humanity. In Jeremy's words, the U.S. does not need Canada to get to the moon on Artemis II but their leadership made an intentional choice to collaborate on this historic mission for the betterment of all humankind.
If you know me, you know that I'm not easily "star struck" but the thought of meeting Minister of National Defence Anita Anand seemed like a pipe dream.
So, when she walked into the Stampede box, I got butterflies. It took encouragement from those around me to step out and introduce myself but the rest was easy.
It was an honour to meet her in person but the best part was our instant connection. She has twins (4 children total) and, as a Mom of twins, it's like a special club. Having multiple children at one time is exponentially harder from the moment of conception and multiple-Moms just "get it".
We discussed the challenges of raising growing children and negotiating a professional marriage with both partners passionate about work, while yearning for work-life balance - we truly had so much to talk about! We touched on the Canadian Armed Forces and, being married to a Colonel, I have a deep understanding of the challenges our military members and families face. Covering topics from what to wear when we dine with the Prime Minister to how eighteen year olds can sometimes miss the big picture, we were two women who allowed ourselves to be 'seen' in those short moments, turning idle small talk into uplifting and energizing words of encouragement for each other. Our conversation will go down as one of my favourites, ever, and I plan to remain connected to this fabulous, bad-ass, woman!
4. The Paradigm of Leadership is shifting - finally!
Impressive change is afoot in Calgary as the Stampede will be overseen by it's first ever female President in the next couple of years, Cherie Copithorne-Barnes.
I met Cherie at the President's luncheon and was immediately taken by her warmth and kindness. Everyone who spoke of her called her a "real rancher" and noted her integrity. If I'm understanding the protocol, she will work her way up from this role as female executive on the Board of Directors to Stampede President. Just look at the pictures behind her, you will see that history is shifting in remarkable ways!!
5. This Moon Mission is making history:
For Jeremy to invited to be the Stampede Marshall and to observe the enthusiasm for his role and the upcoming mission with his crew mates on Artemis II in a place like Alberta, Canada reminds me that humanity becomes unified by adventure, hope and optimism.
It's so easy to be motivated by fear and anger and we have seen so much of that over the last few years. Since the announcement of Artemis II on April 3, 2023, the energy surrounding us and expanding into many hidden pockets of the country has been shifting. Calgary is not normally a place I would have expected to find so many space enthusiasts but that's exactly the point: people are excited and inspired by this mission and it has awakened renewed hope of a brighter future. This energetic positivity is evident in so many of the conversations and connections I have been having over the last several months. People are truly excited to see our country joining forces with the U.S. to solve real problems in tangible ways.
Jeremy has been very, very clear that this mission is not about him - it's about all the people over countless years who have worked tirelessly to get humans to the point where we can return to the moon. He has reminded us that going to the moon has not gotten any easier than it was 50 years ago. We will watch Jeremy, Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Koch leave the planet but the real mission has already begun - to connect us to all the things, big and small, that are made possible by a mission of this magnitude.
In Jeremy's words on CTV News:
"We've shown that we can do extraordinary things when we do collaborate."
International partnerships can help create solutions for problems like food production in remote communities, health-care delivery and climate change, Hansen said, and those could be applied to space exploration in the future.
"Canada has a lot of expertise and genius in the country to offer in these areas and it's a really good synergy for us because the exact same problem on the planet, we will have on Mars and on the moon," Hansen said.
"Space is a pillar, one pillar of the future solutions needed for us to survive here as a species. And I see Canada's opportunities as immense in that area."
And a final word from the Stampede....