Alayiah Wolf Child is this year's Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess, and leading up to the Stampede she's been keeping busy at many events, including traveling internationally.

As the First Nations Princess, Wolf Child explained she represents the Calgary Stampede and Indigenous culture, among other things. So far she's loved the many opportunities she's had through this, which included traveling to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Gathering of the Nations Powwow. This powwow hosted royalty from all over Turtle Island (some Indigenous people call North America Turtle Island), and Wolf Child said celebrating unique cultures while also celebrating her own was a special moment.

"I got to see a lot of different tribes demonstrating their unique dances and their traditions, so it was really good to be out at Gathering of the Nations this year. It was my first time, that was pretty cool." 

This is just one of many doors that opened for Wolf Child, as she added she also has seen several Broadway Across Canada shows and also attended a Calgary Hitmen game.

"For the Every Child Matters (Hitmen) game, they requested me to do a little dance to participate with the other dancers on the ice. After that, we walked around the concourse and we just interacted with all the kids and really tried to engage with the community members because a lot of them are from Siksika or the Calgary area, and it was good to see people from home and a lot of my relations."

While those big events are certainly special, Wolf Child pointed out that one of her favourite things to do is connecting with the community on a smaller scale at events like Happy Trails, which she said "is basically a Mini-Stampede that we bring for the elders and lodges."

"I really love interacting with the elders because it reminds me of how I would be in the Elbow River camp asking my grandparents if they had extra cash for me to go get a candy apple or something. Happy Trails has grown on me and I really look forward to it every month to see all these elders. Last Happy Trails I met one of the elders who was about 100 years old. I think that's the oldest I've ever met anyone."

There have been many great moments, but for Wolf Child she says one of her greatest highlights isn't a specific moment, but rather just the general opportunity and what it means to be the Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess.

"I'll think back to when they first called my name and I think that's one of my highlights, I'm always grateful to be representing Treaty Seven and I hope to expand my knowledge of not only my own nation, but Tsuu T'ina and Stoney Nakoda and I want to continue learning about what their values and traditions are. Treaty Seven is such a unique tribe, consisting of three different nations, and I think that's something that I really am opening my eyes up to and trying to learn more about." 

As wonderful as this all is, Wolf Child also spoke about some of the struggles that come with being a Stampede Princess, and the personal growth that comes as a result of it. She loves the role and has enjoyed her opportunities to the fullest, but added she's had to battle with her own social anxiety when she's on stage and finds she could "overthink every encounter and am always thinking of the worst." When these struggles happen Wolf Child said she thinks about the people who look up to her, and that helps her find the strength needed to push forward and grow.

"There are people out there that are looking at you as a role model, and as much as I'm struggling you got to keep pushing forward. Some of my role models will encourage me; I want to be that encouragement for them."

"I know 17-year-old Alayiah will look at me right now and think 'you became a Princess? That's so crazy!' because 17-year-old me was so shy, so introverted, I never wanted to try to be in the spotlight. It's a full circle moment, thinking that I could be my own role model in a couple of years without even realizing it."

Wolf Child added she has grown far more comfortable with her role compared to when she first began and hopes to continue representing Treaty Seven as best she can while she still holds the crown.

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