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Author: William Cockerell

William Cockerell attained his journalism degree from Concordia University and started his first journalism role at Shootin' the Breeze in 2022.
Text: Communities coming together in a spirit of reconciliation and hope because every child matters. Orange t-shirt marking Orange Shirt Day.

Local Truth and Reconciliation commemorations

In Canada, Sept. 30 is recognized as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day honouring Indigenous children who experienced the horrors of residential schools, and the families affected.

Communities and organizations host activities across the country to commemorate this painful history and spread awareness of the lasting impacts still endured by survivors and their families to this day.

Throughout the southwestern Alberta region, many groups are hosting events over the next few days in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Piikani Child and Family Services

For starters, Piikani Child and Family Services is hosting a Day of Truth and Reconciliation event at Piikani Travel Centre on Friday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. until noon. 

The group will unveil a new billboard sign for Piikani Child and Family Services, while also honouring Every Child Matters and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The event will feature a blessing, speakers, elders and a free lunch. Everyone is welcome.


Poster for Diyet concert and Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod


Peigan Ponokamiitatopii

A few hours later, Peigan Ponokamiitatopii, an equine-assisted learning organization, is hosting a Truth and Reconciliation youth event from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Fort Macleod ag building. 

Youth are invited to sign up for an afternoon of learning all about Blackfoot culture, language, games, food and more.

“My goal with this event is to invite any youth to come and participate, especially non-native youth, to see what we’re all about,” says Julia Lowe, owner of Peigan Ponokamiitatopii.

“The whole idea is to get people together to learn about the Blackfoot ways.”

To sign up for this free event, call or text Julia at 403-339-4048.


Man and woman with their dog in ad for Vision Credit Union profit sharing


Smudging and blessing with Peter Strikes With A Gun

Later the same evening, Pincher Creek United Church will host a smudge and blessing with elder Peter Strikes with a Gun, beginning at 5 p.m. in its parking lot. 

Smudging is a cultural ceremony practised by many Indigenous peoples in Canada, typically involving prayer and the burning of sacred medicines. 

This, like many other Indigenous traditions, was repressed and frowned upon within residential schools, so it is important to embrace this long-standing practice in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Swing by the church to learn from the words of this Piikani elder, and stick around afterwards for fry bread, refreshments and more.

Calling My Spirit Back

Community members are also welcome to join the English family from Oct. 2 to 4 for their sixth annual Calling My Spirit Back healing walk for justice and awareness for the lives in Treaty 7 and globally.

The walk will begin with a pipe ceremony at the English estate in Brocket at 4 a.m. on Oct. 2, before leaving for a nearly 200-kilometre walk to Calgary. The walk concludes at Olympic Plaza, where the group will join the 20th Sisters in Spirit Vigil.

For details, contact Natawowowkii (Stephanie) English at


Notice of operational days for Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill


Kairos Blanket Exercise

Lastly, Pincher Creek United Church is hosting a Kairos Blanket Exercise with Rev. Tony Snow, a United Church minister and member of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, on Oct. 2 at 11 a.m.

The Blanket Exercise was developed by elders and keepers of knowledge to help illustrate the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canadian history. Everyone is welcome to learn about Indigenous experiences of colonization.

Registration is requested for the exercise. To register, email or call 403-627-3734.

Take time to reflect

These are just a few of the local events, so be sure to keep an eye out for additional activities geared toward the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Every Child Matters movement. 

If you can’t make it to any of the events, be sure to take a moment on Sept. 30 to learn more about the history of residential schools and reflect upon it. This online link provides information:


Orange and blue flames on SGB Fitbodies ad promoting Fire and Ice classes


Related story: Dave Friesen’s relentless pursuit of justice at Lower Post IRS

Dr. Laura Chisholm – woman with long, straight, reddish-blonde hair, of Pincher Creek Eye Clinic

Seeing good in the world

There are those who talk about doing good and nothing ever comes of it, there are those who do good and need to boast, and then there are people like Dr. Laura Chisholm. If you’ve encountered Laura, you will know she is an individual who selflessly acts in the best interests of others without a mention of it from her.

Many Pincher Creek residents would recognize Laura as their optometrist, others know her in a different capacity, but anyone who is familiar with her is aware of her kind soul and giving nature.

This month, Dr. Chisholm is celebrating her 10-year anniversary working at Pincher Creek Eye Clinic. To mark the occasion, she is doing something very on-brand — giving.

She will be donating a portion of her September sales to Fighting Blindness Canada, a non-profit organization that raises money and awareness to support Canadians who suffer from blindness. To date, the group has contributed over $40 million for sight-saving research.

“The hardest part of this job is telling people that they have something wrong with their eyes, that they won’t be able to see like they used to and nothing can really be done about it,” Laura says.

“This charity works on research into new cures for these problems that otherwise don’t have a cure.”

Beyond her kind nature, Laura has a personal connection to vision quality. A genetic eye condition runs in her family, providing a unique personal perspective on the importance of sight.

“I have watched so many people struggle with vision loss and fluctuation of vision. In my family, it’s been a tough struggle, so I wanted to help prevent vision loss from happening,” she says.


Vision Credit Union drought campaign ad. Rear view of man and woman walking into field


Laura has been asked many times why she didn’t pursue ophthalmology, as her family was often taken care of by ophthalmologists. She felt, though, that this wasn’t the best way she could help people with their vision.

“I wanted to be more on the front lines to catch things early, or give people tools ahead of time to try and help prevent this vision loss from happening,” she says.

According to office manager Chelsey Olson, Laura’s sentiments only reinforce what everyone at the eye clinic already knew about the kind-hearted optometrist.

“Her patients just adore her. She’s so highly sought after and everyone wants to see Dr. Chisholm, and I think it’s because she’s so giving and compassionate. She spends so much time on her patients because she actually cares so much,” Chelsey says.

“She has spent several nights after hours, her own personal time, advocating for patients, researching options for patients and bringing her findings to them, and they’ll have no clue she was even doing it.”

Laura began working alongside Dr. Bart Anderson, previous owner of the clinic, joining the practice straight out of the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science.


Beige and green trailer on announcement reminding Pincher Creek residents to have trailers off the street by Oct. 21.


She speaks highly of Bart’s influence on her career and the way she handles patients, and of what his teachings meant to her.

“He is a very compassionate, caring man. His guidance was invaluable as I was arriving in a new community, and helping me establish myself as a new practitioner,” she says.

Eventually, Bart sold the clinic to his son, Dr. Dave Anderson. Laura notes her gratitude toward Dave as well, citing how the new ideas and treatments he’s brought to the table have provided her priceless knowledge to support her patients.

Dave, on the other hand, expresses that Laura’s charitable intentions are “totally par for the course for her.”

“She’s just someone who provides care, and I don’t just mean great eye care, I mean just care in general. She just has such a huge heart and just loves everybody,” he says.

“She’d give the shirt off her back to help someone, and I think that goes a long way with our patients. Everybody who comes into our clinic feels her kindness and love and concern. She’s just an amazing person to work with.”

Dr. Chisholm extends her gratitude to her supportive team at the clinic, who “make coming to work a joy” for the giving optometrist, and her patients for their support during her 10 years at Pincher Creek Eye Clinic. 

Felicia White, woman with dark hair pulled back and sunglasses on her head, holds a black puppy while standing with an adult dressed in a brown dog costume.

Get ready to Raise the Woof with Pincher Creek Humane Society

Pincher Creek Humane Society invites members of the community to join them for a standup comedy show fundraiser and dinner on Friday, Sept. 29, at Pincher Creek Community Hall.

This adults-only comedy night features special guest comedians Dave Nystrom and Adam Ruby.

Dave is a Canadian comedian from Thunder Bay, best known for his work on CTV’s Comedy Now! and the CBC political comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes. 

Adam, on the other hand, is a high-energy comedian who is highly regarded for his storytelling. He has made a name for himself within the Calgary comedy scene, having performed in the YYC Comedy Festival, as well as being a regular at the Comedy Cave.

The animal shelter is hosting the event in the hopes of raising money to offset mounting expenses, in addition to funding new spay-and-neuter programs.

“As a non-profit, we only get so much funding. It’s not enough when compared to the cost of running the shelter,” says Felicia White, manager of the shelter.

“I would say that even a healthy cat that comes in is easily going to cost us $200 for the vetting, the original health check, the vaccines, the spay or neuter procedure, etc.”

In recent months, the non-profit has been slammed by veterinary bills and other expenses, stemming from an increase in the number of animals being dropped off at the shelter.

Felicia says this has been a particularly bad year in terms of the number of dogs dropped off at the shelter. As it stands, the shelter is at maximum capacity for dogs.


Orange t-shirt on grey background with Town of Pincher Creek logo on the sleeve, promoting Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30.


The hope is that this show draws locals and succeeds in raising enough money to help the shelter recover funds and get through to next year without worrying about a lack of resources.

“We just need to raise money. The board, the staff, we’re all trying to find different ways to bring in that income to help our animals, but we can only do so much and we need support from the community,” Felicia says. 

The shelter is seeking support from local companies, individuals and organizations, and there are a number of ways you can help. Individual tickets can be purchased through the shelter for $65, or companies can spoil their staff by purchasing a table of eight for $450.

Businesses and individuals can also sponsor the event through either monetary or silent auction items. There are six levels of sponsorship, ranging from “High Paw” to “All 4 Paws In,” with any sort of sponsorship being recognized through the shelter’s social media pages.

If those options don’t work for you, you can still support the shelter by purchasing a 50-50 ticket for the humane society’s online raffle. Anyone in Alberta can purchase a ticket, with the winner’s name being drawn the night of the show.

Assuming the shelter sells out its 50-50 raffle, the lucky winner would walk away with $10,000.

“We want to sell out, we want that engagement with the community and we want this to be a night to remember,” Felicia says.

So far, ticket sales have been slow for tables, and our local branch of the SPCA is imploring residents and businesses alike to come out and support a worthy cause.

Tickets can be purchased at Pincher Creek Humane Society, by contacting Felicia at 403-563-0095 or by contacting Kelly Lepine at 403-563-9428.

Rachel VanHalen, a woman with short brown hair and wearing a red vest, pushes a cart with activity bins at Pincher Creek Health Centre

Pincher Creek Health Centre seeking volunteers to support patients

Alberta Health Services is actively recruiting volunteers to help support patients at Pincher Creek Health Centre.

The call was put out across social media by AHS’s volunteer resources co-ordinator (south zone), Michelle Wilkinson, who says the hospital is in need of patient visitors, pets to visit with patients and home-care visitors.

“The ideal volunteer would be outgoing and offer support by engaging in conversation, listening, or simply spending time with patients who may be feeling lonely or isolated,” she says.

Preferred applicants would be expected to work collaboratively with health-care providers to ensure patients and their families are getting improved care and experiences.

Health centre volunteers typically approach the role with a desire to help others, and provide compassion to patients when needed. 

Anyone interested in helping out would need to be available 12 to 16 hours a month, with hours spread across three to four shifts. Applicants would need to commit to a minimum of one year of volunteering with Alberta Health Services.

“We offer flexible scheduling, allowing volunteers to find a time that fits with their current schedule,” Michelle says.


Town of Pincher Creek council and committee of the whole schedule advertisement


She notes that volunteering comes with numerous personal and professional benefits, including a sense of fulfillment, community engagement and career enhancement.

“Helping patients during challenging times can be deeply rewarding and provide a strong sense of purpose. It is a way to give back to one’s community and make a positive impact on the lives of others,” she says.

“Volunteering in a health-care setting can also serve as a stepping stone for individuals interested in pursuing careers in health care. It provides exposure to the health-care field and networking opportunities. Regardless of the role, volunteer experience looks great on a resume.”

AHS offers several courses to volunteers to help them in their roles, free of charge. Twice a year, it offers a palliative-care training course to volunteers to teach them how to assist patients who are at the end of life.

Those interested in applying to help patients at the health centre are encouraged to apply directly online. 

Applicants must complete AHS’s volunteer onboarding process, which includes a criminal background check, a health screen and two references. They must also participate in confidentiality and privacy training, as well as online, site and program-specific orientations and training.

For more information, contact Michelle directly by email or by phone at 403-562-5024.

Logo for Crowsnest Pass Fire Rescue featuring a crow, maple leaf, snowcapped mountains, an axe, a ladder and spruce trees

Crowsnest Pass recruiting paid on-call firefighters

If you’ve ever considered becoming a firefighter and live in Crowsnest Pass, now might be your chance to give it a go.

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass has put out a recruitment call for paid on-call firefighters to join the ranks of the municipal fire department.

A career opportunities notice, posted online, states the department is in need of community-oriented applicants who exhibit a desire to keep the people of Crowsnest Pass safe. 

“We’re always looking for great people to join the department, so we put the call out on the municipal website to try and reach a wide spectrum of people. It’s been a successful recruitment drive here thus far,” says Craig Marshall, deputy chief of the fire department.

Any recruit must possess a number of minimum qualifications to become a paid on-call firefighter.

An applicant must be at least 18 years of age, be a resident of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, be eligible to work in Canada, provide a criminal background check, hold a Class 5 driver’s licence and pass a medical. 

On top of these minimum qualifications, applicants must exhibit a good attitude and teamworking skills.


Beautiful sampling of wedding invitations and photo cards created by Claresholm Local Press.


In support of career firefighters, they must also have the capacity to follow directions and make practical decisions calmly on a moment’s notice. 

“We want people that we can trust, that the community can trust,” says the deputy chief.

“We’re often meeting people on their most vulnerable day, so it’s important that applicants show integrity, confidentiality and a desire to help just because it’s the right thing to do.”

Paid on-call firefighters are required to attend weekly training sessions and emergency calls on an as-needed basis. Due to the unpredictability of the job, hours can vary significantly, but generally range from two to 10 hours per week.

To apply, visit the career opportunities page on the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass website at 

Any questions about becoming a member of the municipal fire department can be directed to Craig Marshall at 403-562-8600 or by email.

Jack Simard, wearing a white and blue Mustangs football jersey catches a football while other players collide to his right.

Mustangs recruit enough athletes to field bantam football team

A few weeks ago, the Pincher Creek Mustangs football program was in jeopardy of being unable to field a team for the 2023-24 regular season because of changes to Football Canada’s roster rules.

Under the new rules, teams looking to compete in nine-a-side football needed 17 players registered before the season began, otherwise they’d be ineligible for regulation play.

Fortunately, the Mustangs were able to recruit enough players for their bantam team to compete in league action this year.

“We were thrilled to get the players we needed to field the bantam team,” says Faith Zachar, president of the Pincher Creek and District Mustangs Football Society.

“We had been recruiting since April when we had our Stamps Camp, and more recently, we started recruiting at all the schools and putting the word out on Facebook. When we finally came up with the last recruit we needed, we were just ecstatic.”

The team’s season opener was against the Lethbridge Rams Gold on Sept. 9 at the University of Lethbridge Stadium. Despite a solid effort, the Mustangs fell by a score of 34-6. 

Pincher Creek’s home opener was played this past Saturday at Matthew Halton Field, where the Mustangs faced the Lethbridge Coyotes in a nail-biter of a contest.

The Mustangs played well, even leading 14-0 partway through the third quarter, but the determined Coyotes mounted a comeback, capped by a touchdown with just 1.6 seconds left, to win the game 21-20.  

Despite the 0-2 record, Faith is thrilled with what she has seen from both new and returning Mustangs athletes on and off the field.

“They’re all so determined to play and help each other out, especially the ones returning to the team. You can tell they’re all becoming very close, very quickly,” she says.


Woman in orange and yellow safety vest speaks to older man dressed in grey beside a police car


Sean Oliver, head coach of the bantam Mustangs, is also happy with this relatively inexperienced club.

“What’s nice to see as a coach is that they are playing to win every play. They may not have the experience, but they compete hard and aren’t afraid to go up against anybody,” he says.

“There’s a really good trajectory with these kids, and I’ve been really impressed with how well the boys have worked and how they’ve soaked up everything that I can teach them as a coach.”

Despite being unable to recruit a sufficient number of athletes for the peewee and senior clubs this year, both teams will be competing in exhibition games organized by the Mustangs throughout the fall.

Confirmed dates are posted to the Mustangs group page on Facebook, with more to be added later. 

The hope is that this time next year, the Mustangs will have a sufficient number of registered athletes for all three teams to compete in league play.

Based on the current makeup of the senior team, Faith believes the Mustangs should have enough bantam athletes moving up to the senior level to qualify for regular season play next year.

The same applies to peewee players moving up to the bantam level to meet roster needs, so the recruitment focus moving forward will be primarily on peewee athletes.

Jonathan Friesen, a man with red hair, sideburns and beard, looks into a microscope.

LRSD students will benefit from mobile science lab

High school students can now immerse themselves in an authentic research space suitable for environmental sciences programming, while earning dual credit in high school and post-secondary botany, ecology, geology, zoology and aquaponics courses.

A mobile environmental sciences lab, created collaboratively by Lethbridge College and Livingstone Range School Division, was launched Sept. 7. Representatives of the two institutions were on hand at PEAKS Campus, the school division’s place-based learning centre in Crowsnest Pass, to officially unveil the lab.

“I think that with this lab comes a unique opportunity to provide world-class education for our students that kids in rural areas tend to have trouble accessing otherwise,” says Chad Kuzyk, associate superintendent of curriculum and innovation for LRSD.

Students will have no shortage of experiential learning opportunities when using the field-study lab.

“This space will provide our students with an authentic learning experience that you just can’t get in the classroom,” says LRSD superintendent Darryl Seguin.

“We have this beautiful area that we live in, so what better way to provide students with the opportunity to learn more about the environment and careers in the field than to provide them with the space to do so.”



Jonathan Friesen, a lab technician for Lethbridge College who helped design the space, says the lab is equipped to ensure students have everything they need to conduct industry-standard studies.

“We want to get high school students interested in the environmental sciences, and this lab was designed to be a good way for students to get their feet wet,” he says.

The lab includes microscopes, binoculars, chest waders, nets, storage tanks, sensors, safety kits, weather gear, water flow measuring software, a generator and a canopy. It will provide students with a clear pathway into post-secondary education and careers in environmental sciences.

Students can rest assured that this one-of-a-kind mobile unit is designed for use during all four seasons.

“Countless hours of planning and work went into this custom project so it could be comfortable and self-sufficient for students year-round, and we are excited to see the learning experiences that will take place within it,” says Dr. Terry Kowalchuk, dean of Lethbridge College’s Centre for Technology, Environment and Design, via press release.

In coming weeks, high schools within the division will have opportunities to check out the lab so that teachers and students alike know what new resources are at their fingertips.

This project was made possible by a $100,000 grant provided to the educational institutions by the Alberta Education Dual Credit Enhancement Fund.

Madison Stephens dressed in vampirish costume. Her face is painted white with black lips and eyes with dark tear lines running down her cheeks.

Madison seeks votes in Face of Horror contest

Halloween is just around the corner, and that means Pincher Creek residents will soon begin embracing the spooky season with costumes, decorations and displays galore. 

Perhaps no one is more ready for Halloween than Madison Stephens, who is gunning to be the next “Face of Horror.”

Madison is one of many contestants competing in the Face of Horror contest, vying to be featured on the cover of Rue Morgue, a multinational magazine devoted to covering horror fiction. 

The winner will also receive $13,000, a trip to Hollywood and a photo shoot at the famous Woodbury Mansion with Kane Hodder, known primarily for his role as Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th films.

While Madison thinks each of the perks would be wonderful, she has her sights set primarily on the money, with a wholesome goal in mind.

“If this sum were dreadfully thrust upon me, I would likely invest a portion to my creative endeavours and the remainder would be spent on equipment and decor for our ever-growing Halloween display,” Madison wrote on the Face of Horror website.

“For over 15 years, my family has invested in our Halloween display, something that started as a beloved family tradition that has now become a highlight during October for our community, even prompting the local kids to dub our home the Halloween House.”

Madison is referring to her parents’ home, located in the residential area behind the Co-op. The Breckenridges have long been a family infatuated with the horror genre.

For over a decade, Madison and her family have travelled near and far, collecting unique animatronics and decorations to make Halloween feel special for local youth in particular.

“There were a few people who had large displays when I was a kid, and I really appreciated it growing up, so it’s great for us to have something like that for the kids to enjoy,” she says.

In order to win, Madison must get through nine weekly rounds of voting. The First To Die round comes to a close on Sept. 14, and Madison needs local support to stave off elimination. 

To vote for Madison, visit her online page at, click on free daily vote and register through email or Facebook. Everyone gets a free vote once every 24 hours. 

Those interested in submitting more votes can purchase them, as well. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, the largest provider of financial assistance to families dealing with pediatric cancer.

Cast your votes and help Madison and her family continue growing a community Halloween tradition.

Shootin’ the Breeze – September 13, 2023

The joy of literacy

Const. William Feran of Pincher Creek RCMP stopped by Canyon Elementary School last Friday to read Dolphin SOS to Grade 4 students. Const. Feran and several other volunteers read to children as part of the school’s International Literacy Day celebrations, reminding students of the importance of literacy.


Youth run from the starting line of the Amazing Teen Race in Crowsnest Pass

Amazing Teen Race attracts 88 participants

Teens from Crowsnest Pass and surrounding area took to the streets of Coleman on Saturday for CNP 40’s eighth annual Amazing Teen Race. 

The race featured 22 teams of four who made their way through 15 unique challenges. Participants ranged from grades 7 to 12.

Racers went from one challenge station to the next, completing assigned tasks in order to receive their next clue.

The competition included a wide variety of challenges, including escape rooms, fitness circuits, paddleboard races, mannequin hair braiding, creating a song and posting it to social media, and operating a fire hose and hydrant as a team to hit a target.

“I think the race went really well this year. Our registration was full and the kids had a lot of fun with the challenges,” says Stephanie Olsen, co-ordinator of CNP 40 Developmental Assets.

“I think that the hosts that participated genuinely had fun with this event, too. They make the challenges and really put in the effort to make it fun for the teens.” 

The winning teams were determined based on how quickly they completed the challenges. 



In the senior high category, the Ducklings team, featuring Sophie Wendrich, Adam Wendrich, Lily Baillie and Nola McGaughey, took home first place. Each Duckling received a cash prize of $50. 

The NIKS team finished second, featuring Isaac Bailey, Sam Graham, Nate Amatto and Marley Harriott. Each received $25 for their effort.

First place among the junior high teams went to Alex Mertz, Halie Macdonald, Colin Pitt and Landon Sokoloski of the Benchwarmers team. Like the senior high winners, each team member received $50.

The HotWheels team, consisting of Neleta Crombie, Ayla Smith, Owen Smith and Paulo Cameselle, came in second and each was awarded $25.

Stephanie emphasizes how valuable the support that CNP 40 received for this event was.

“I think it’s a community effort,” she says. “The amount of volunteers that we need to do this each year is overwhelming, and yet we seem to rarely have any trouble finding hosts or volunteers because this community really comes together.”

This year’s challenge hosts were A Copper Bind Macrame, Aura Studios, Chris’ Restaurant, Coleman Lions, Crowsnest Adventures, Crowsnest Museum and Archives, Crowsnest Senior Housing — Peaks to Pines, Crow Works, Goal Diggers, Groves Music, the Black Hare, the Knight Family, Nature Conservancy Canada, CNP Protective Services/RCMP/Canadian Bear Safety Authority and CNP Fire Rescue.

CNP 40 thanks every one of its sponsors, challenge hosts, volunteers and participants for making this year’s Amazing Teen Race a successful one.

Wynn finds the gerbil in the 2018 Cowley Barn Hunt

Dogs will test their sniffers at the Cowley Barn Hunt

From Friday to Sunday, the Southern Alberta Working Herding Dog Association is hosting a series of barn hunt trials at the Cowley Community Hall.

Barn hunting tests the senses and physical capabilities of dogs that generally have a history of hunting above-ground vermin.

The rules are fairly straight forward. Gerbils are confined in opaque PVC tubes laid within a maze of straw bales. Dogs are brought into the designated perimeter and judged on their ability to sniff out the vermin. 

The tubes are strategically placed and somewhat covered, with vent holes drilled for the gerbils to breathe and to allow dogs to pick up their scent. Participating dogs must locate the tubes with a live gerbil and ignore tubes with gerbil litter, intended to throw them off. 

Rats are typically used for the trials, but given that rats are banned in Alberta, gerbils are used for the SAWHDA event.

Per the Barn Hunt Association LLC rules, SAWHDA will host two trials per day.

A BHA Licensed Barn Hunt Trial is a collection of classes of varying difficulty, from Instinct through Master, and optionally, the Crazy 8s class, where competitor/dog teams can earn qualifying scores/legs toward Barn Hunt titles. 

The courses and tubes are designed to be increasingly challenging depending on the division and class a dog belongs to.



Friday’s trials will feature Crazy 8s, a non-regular class that tasks dogs with going through a tunnel two to five times, before climbing atop a stack of hay two bales high. They then must find up to eight gerbils located in tubes, with four litter tubes on the course to throw them off.

Saturday and Sunday’s trials will see a mixture of dogs competing in classes across two divisions. Each trial will start with the instinct class, with subsequent classes following based on difficulty.

Friday’s trials will begin with check-in at 4 p.m., with the first dog expected in the ring by 5, to get the event underway.

Saturday and Sunday events will begin with 7 a.m. check ins and the first dog scheduled to be in the ring by 8.

Day-of-show entries are permitted, provided your dog is registered with the BHA and that the judging limits allow for it. 

The event is open to all breeds and mixed breeds as long as they are at least six months old, so there will certainly be an interesting mix of dogs competing for top honours.

The event is free to attend, so make sure to stop by the Cowley Community Hall this weekend and check out the entertainment.

Any questions regarding the trials should be directed to event secretary Stacy Gheseger, by email at or by cell at 403-896-4456.

Wavy image of pride colours

Empress Theatre stands with LGBTQ+ community following vandalism

Fort Macleod RCMP have arrested two youths in connection with an incident of vandalism during a Pride event at the historic Empress Theatre.

Last Saturday, the Fort Macleod Pride Committee hosted a drag show at the Empress Theatre as part of the town’s annual Pride celebrations.

Just 10 minutes into the show, audience members began to notice what Denise Joel, who chairs the Empress board, called a “very unpleasant, putrid smell.” 

Unbeknownst to those in attendance, a group of youths had begun pouring a noxious black liquid out of a glass container onto the floor.

“They were sitting in the back, and there was no sign that there would be any trouble. All of a sudden, we started to smell something quite unpleasant. Initially, people thought someone had set off a stink bomb,” Joel said.

“They had this container hidden in a bag, and they were leaking that substance onto the floor, beneath their seats, then they got up to leave and continued to leak that substance onto the carpet. When they reached the foyer, they smashed the entire contents of this jar onto the floor.”

Police, having been made aware of the disturbance, were quick to apprehend two suspects as they attempted to flee the scene.

Initially, police were informed that a smoke bomb had been discharged in the theatre, but investigation later revealed that fisher and marten lure oil had been used.



Due to online backlash regarding scheduled Pride events, the town had a heavy police presence during Pride festivities, making this act of vandalism a bold one. 

“It didn’t happen just randomly, that’s certainly apparent,” Joel said.

“It was targeted, it was meant to happen at that specific event, and I think that’s very concerning. There is absolutely no place for this kind of act.”

The theatre announced on its social media pages that it will be closed until further notice, while the extent of damages is determined.

“A big part of the issue is that it’s a historic theatre, a lot of what’s damaged is of historic significance, so we’re just ensuring that everything can be cleaned appropriately and properly. We hope, obviously, it can all be restored quickly,” Joel said.

The same day as the Empress incident, another act of vandalism targeting a Pride event was carried out when the community flagpole and Pride flag were torn down and burned. 

In the wake of the incidents, both the Empress Theatre and Fort Macleod Pride have received unwavering support from the general public through messages, donations and more. 

In a statement issued by the Town of Fort Macleod, members of town council condemned what they referred to as “heinous actions.” 

Both the Empress Theatre and Fort Macleod Pride have since issued statements thanking everyone who has stood by them and offered their support.

“The Empress has always been, and will always continue to be, a safe and inclusive place for all. Please remember: Love always wins,” says an online statement from the theatre.

The Empress says it will work with local RCMP, the Town of Fort Macleod and other authorities to identify the best way to move forward.

The two incidents remain under investigation by RCMP.

Woman with short, dark hair and glasses speaks from a podium while pointing to a photo display

KBPV unveils Part II of Bert Riggall photo exhibit

 Part II of the photo exhibit Bert Riggall: An Intimate Visual of the Southwest Alberta Mountains is now on display in the front entrance of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek. 

The two-part exhibit features photos taken by Bert Riggall, a highly respected mountain guide, outfitter and naturalist, whose photos from the first half of the 20th century perfectly encapsulate the natural beauty of the greater Waterton region.

Part I focused on photos taken by Bert during his early years in southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, operating a packtrain business out of Waterton and taking tourists on backcountry trips and fishing expeditions. 

Part II now features photos taken by Bert during backcountry trips through the upper Oldman Watershed, including notable landmarks such as Beehive Mountain, Little Bear Lake and Mount Lyell.

“Bert’s photos are visually stunning,” says Farley Wuth, curator at KBPV. “Many of those backcountry trails have not been photographed by other photographers, so it’s a good visual record of the history of that country.”

An avid photographer, Bert captured some of the region’s most stunning landscapes in his shots, while providing a bird’s-eye view of the local history of backpacking during the pioneer days.

While the photos are phenomenal visual representations, Bert took things one step forward by providing written details on the back of nearly every photo featured in the exhibit.

“On the reverse side of virtually every photograph, he’s written down when the photo was taken, the type of camera that was used, the details of the trip, where it was, who was in the party, things like that,” Farley says.



“It’s great that he took the photos, but it’s equally great that he wrote down the details of what the images are all about. It’s great to have that history.”

This travelling exhibit was organized by Wendy Ryan, president of the Bert Riggall Environmental Foundation, a non-profit outdoors group based in Pincher Creek. 

Wendy has spent roughly six years working on the exhibit, but has studied Bert Riggall’s life and accomplishments for far longer. 

After moving to the area in 1980, Wendy married an outfitter and the pair would often ride horses together along various trails. She did not know they were Bert Riggall trails, nor did she know of their significance, until she met Bert’s grandchildren.

Thanks to the Russell family, she learned and developed an appreciation for the hard work that goes into running an outfitting business, and for Bert’s ability to take photos under difficult circumstances.

Wendy feels it is important not only to promote Bert as an important historical figure to the region, but also to promote the stunning and unique landscapes the region has to offer.

“We’d like to encourage people that would like to learn more about the area to just go out there and discover little hidden gems like the Old Man Falls,” she says. 

“I probably drove by the falls a couple of times without realizing they were there because you need to get out of your car and walk 100 metres, and there it is, and it’s very beautiful.”

Wendy will conduct a presentation of Part II of the Bert Riggall exhibit on Aug. 30 at KBPV, so those interested in learning more about Bert are encouraged to attend.



Two football players, white jersey carrying the ball

Football Canada’s new roster rules shroud Mustangs in uncertainty

For three decades, Mustangs football has been a staple of support for the development of children in Pincher Creek. However, new roster rules are jeopardizing the program’s operations.

In January, the Mustangs received an email from Football Alberta stating that Football Canada had made changes to its roster rules that took effect Jan. 1.

In accordance with the new roster rules, teams looking to play nine-a-side football, with less than 17 registered players before the season starts, will be ineligible for league play in the 2023-24 season. 

Football Canada has informed provincial football associations of the changes and these associations will enforce the new rules accordingly.

“I’m just so worried that we’re going to lose football,” says Faith Zachar, president of the Pincher Creek and District Mustangs Football Society.

“For 29 years, we’ve had a lot of children go through the program and we have seen them grow and support each other, while learning the game.”

“We have second-generation players now,” she says. “Their fathers played way back when we first started, and now their children are playing, so I think that shows that it’s been a real benefit to the town.” 

The program has struggled to recruit local youths to register for football since the Covid-19 pandemic, but has managed to get by. Now, without community involvement, Mustangs operations will be heavily impeded.



Currently, the Mustangs boast senior, bantam and peewee football teams. However, none of them have enough registered players to be eligible for league play. Five seniors, nine bantams and five peewees are currently registered.

If the Mustangs fail to register enough players for at least one of the teams by Aug. 26, it will be the first time in the program’s history it has failed to field a team, with the exception of the pandemic period.

“We’ve had a few years where maybe we lost one of the teams because we didn’t have enough players, but we always had at least two teams in the league that we’re in, and I’d hate to see it all go down,” Faith says. 

What the suspension of play could mean for the Mustangs remains unclear, but failing to have a team play in the regular season would do the program and its athletes no favours.

Cord Delinte, a Mustangs alumnus, can certainly speak to the positive impact the Mustangs can have on a youth’s upbringing. 

Having played a successful five-year football career at the University of Regina, the skills and lessons Cord picked up with the Mustangs took him all the way to the 2019 CFL Western Regional combine.

“The Mustangs had a huge impact on me growing up,” he says. “It kept me out of a ton of trouble, and obviously brought me to a much higher level of football, and I owe all that to the Mustangs.”

He emphasizes that community involvement and support are necessary for the Mustangs to thrive, and that in return, the program can help support local youths in ways that go beyond football.



“I found that when I played, there were so many kids that were kind of oddballs or didn’t fit in or had trouble socially, and then they found this outlet where everybody came together as a team,” he says.

“The beautiful thing about football is there’s a spot for every kid, every body type has a position in football, and I think it’s beautiful when you can actually get all these different kids together.”

For parents with concerns about safety, Faith offers assurance that the program takes the safety of its athletes very seriously.  She notes that coaches are trained in safe contact and proper tackling techniques, and that the program’s history of player injuries is sparse. 

“We do everything we can to keep everybody safe,” she says.   

The Mustangs hold practices every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m., for all three teams, at Matthew Halton Field. Those interested in registering to join the Mustangs can do so at their next practice on Aug. 26. 

It costs $275 to register your child for the season and KidSport support is available for those that are eligible for financial assistance. Kidsport Pincher Creek can be reached at 403-627-4322.

If you’re interested in registering your child for the Mustangs but can’t make it to practice this week, you can contact Faith Zachar at 403-627-7751 or, or Shannon Schoening at 403-795-5710 or

Girl on horseback rides, carrying a large Canadian flag

Local cowgirls set to kick off rodeo festivities

Continuing with local rodeo tradition, the Pincher Creek Ranch Girls will kick off each day of the Pincher Creek Pro Rodeo with choreographed routines on horseback.

The grand entry ride, an annual pro rodeo highlight, provides high-energy entertainment while giving the rodeo organizing committee a chance to thank sponsors, whose generous contributions help make the event a success.

“It’s such a highlight because it starts the rodeo off on the right tempo. It’s always such a fun routine to watch,” says Lynn Lievers, who co-chairs the organizing committee.

“They come in, they look great and they move quickly. The music’s always fun to listen to and it really sets us up to have fun.”

Along with team lead Hailey Grove, the troupe features Gray Bennett, Kate Bennett, Morgan Dingreville, Ava Jessen, Kenna Lewis, Gianna Morris, Angelina Morris, Morgan McNab, Kelly Turnbull and Kim Turnbull. 

Each day, the team will enter the arena, with each rider carrying a flag embossed with the logo of a rodeo sponsor.

The gals gallop around the ring, performing well-practised patterns to high-energy music.



In addition to leading rodeo festivities each day, the group assists with escorting cattle from the arena during events to ensure things run smoothly and on time. 

The group will also be featured in the town parade on Saturday, where they will once again fly the sponsors’ flags as they ride their horses down Main Street.

Furthermore, the group will correspond with dignitaries coming into town for the rodeo, working with them to ensure they are properly introduced.

“We’re here to rodeo, we’re here to have fun, and their performance provides a nice way to roll into the rodeo and have the right atmosphere,” Lynn says.

When it comes to the grand entry routine, she says “no one year is ever the same,” so you won’t want to miss the performances.

Young boy squeals with delight while riding a sheep

Local kids ridin’ into rodeo weekend

Local youths will put their best boot forward this weekend as they participate in various events, including the kids rodeo, mutton bustin’, wild ponies and more.

“They’re our future rodeo stars,” says Marie Everts, a member of the rodeo organizing committee.

“Having youth involved in the rodeo weekend is always an important aspect of the events in order to grow these future rodeo champions, stars, volunteers, participants and all of the other people that make the rodeo a success.”

The opportunities for the future rodeo stars begin Friday at 10 a.m. with the Kids Fun Rodeo, a free event for participants and spectators alike. 

The Kids Rodeo features a wide range of events, including keyhole races, barrel racing, pole bending, flag races, a boot race and, a favourite among spectators, the toilet paper race.

Anyone 18 and under is welcome to participate. Those interested must register in person at the rodeo grounds between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. on the event day. A parent or guardian must be present to sign a waiver.



The fun doesn’t stop there for kids, as local youths will compete in mutton bustin’ at noon on Sunday. Children aged three to six will be put to the test as they attempt to ride sheep in the rodeo arena.

Despite increasing the number of available sheep for this year’s rodeo by 10 compared to last year, all 30 sheep have a rider ready for the event.

Participants in the mutton bustin’ event must have a properly fitted helmet and be at the arena by 11:45 a.m. on Sunday.

Wild ponies will return once more as the followup to the bull riders on Saturday and Sunday. 

Following the event’s successful debut during last year’s rodeo, children aged nine to 14 will compete in teams of three to see who can mount and stay on a bucking pony the longest.

One team member acts as the anchor, holding the pony and trying to slow it down, another attempts to put their arms around the pony’s neck to hold it still, and the third is the rider.



This year’s teams feature:

—Kash Lievers, Ridge Flundra and Lachlan Stauffer

—River Koster, Nash Lund and Acey Adair

—Stran Lievers, Cooper Plain Eagle and Jaydon Vold

—Jack Emerson, Casey Emerson, and Hayden Stav

—Angelina Morris, Morgan McNabb and Natalie Donahue

—Grady Dwyer, Rudy Barrios and Sierra Chartier

Teams will be ranked based on their average times scored on Saturday and Sunday, with prizes handed out to the team with the best average.

The calf scramble is also back thanks to the Pincher Creek Legion’s donation of four bikes for the event. The scrambles will occur during intermission, following the trick riders’ performances on Saturday and Sunday.

Kids aged seven to nine and 10 to 12 can chase after a calf with a ribbon tied around its tail, with the goal being to get the ribbon and bring it back to the announcer. The fastest youngster in each age group wins the race and a bike.

Preregistration is not required and children can head down to the calf scramble once it is announced at intermission. 

Lastly, there will be a sandpit, loads of kids games and much more. There’s something for children of all ages at this year’s rodeo!


Cowboy riding saddle bronc on cover page of Pincher Creek Pro Rodeo feature section in Shootin' the Breeze
Poster for Fred Penner concert in Pincher Creek

Join Fred Penner for an evening of family entertainment

Fans of Fred Penner won’t want to miss his free show when the entertainer visits Lebel Mansion in Pincher Creek this Wednesday, Aug. 16!

Following the success of its balcony concert series, the Allied Arts Council of Pincher Creek is now preparing to cap off its outdoor summer entertainment with its most prolific performer to date.

Dubbed A Summer Night With Fred Penner, the concert will bring quality family entertainment for all ages from the four-time Juno award-winning Canadian children’s entertainer.

“We’re excited to host Fred,” says Kassandra Chancey, AAC’s assistant director. “It feels really special and we’re just hopeful for a great and excited crowd.”

A full-time musician since 1972, Fred is best known for songs like “The Cat Came Back” and “Humility.” His TV series, Fred Penner’s Place, ran for 13 seasons with over 900 episodes airing across Canada from 1984 to 1997. 

The concert will be Fred’s first in Pincher Creek, and the renowned performer is excited to bring his feel-good brand of entertainment to town.

“Every gig, regardless of venue, has the same value. For me, it’s about connecting with people who have had some link with me over the years, whether it’s through my music, television series or festivals,” Fred says.

“I’ve been doing this long enough that a lot of people have some sort of link with my legacy and with my career, so I’m just delighted to come to Pincher Creek and meet the folks. It’s gonna be a lovely day.”



Regarded as a pioneer of children’s music in Canada over his 51-year career, Fred has never wavered from his mission to inspire others with his music, positivity and advice that resonate with people both young and young at heart.

For those unfamiliar with Fred Penner, the man himself perfectly describes his inclusive, family-friendly entertainment style to Shootin’ the Breeze.

“It’ll be very eclectic, with lots of different styles of song that carry many influences from my own childhood,” he says. 

“Most of the songs will have a participation quality to them, where I encourage the audience to join me on this musical path so that at the end of our time, we feel as though we have shared something pretty important together.”

Last year, the AAC elected to go out on a limb and see if it was possible to book Fred Penner for a concert at the Lebel. To their surprise, it fit his tour schedule. From there, the arts council felt the show needed to happen, no matter what. 

“The Allied Arts was prepared to just take on whatever we needed to bring Fred to the community, because I feel that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have him come to our small town,” says Kassandra.

“We were really lucky that when we reached out to local businesses to sponsor the event, we had a huge outpouring of support, so we’ve had some great sponsors.”

Fred will perform on a portable stage on the mansion grounds rather than from the Lebel balcony, as past performers have. Kassandra says this is so that children, particularly, can witness the concert up close and be further immersed in Fred’s performance. 

The section of Kettles Street in front of Lebel Mansion will be closed, to make the concert as safe as possible. With this in mind, AAC requests that those driving to the show use the St. Michael’s Church parking lot at the corner of Schofield Street and Christie Avenue.

Gates for A Summer Night With Fred Penner open at 5:30 p.m. Make sure you arrive early, as the show begins at 6:30.

Man in turquoise shirt, grey pants and blue and red cap swings bat in a slo-pitch game

Slo-pitch league hits the diamonds and invites players

The first round of softball games lit up the diamonds last week at Juan Teran Regional Park in Pincher Creek. Every Tuesday and Thursday until the weekend of Sept. 10, teams will gather at the park for friendly games of softball.

Following weeks of casual play, the season will wrap up with a league-wide tournament to see who will claim bragging rights, while keeping things fun and loose.

Pincher Creek Slo-Pitch is a mixed recreational softball league with the goal of ensuring that all players, whether men or women, have a space to have fun, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the game of softball.

“It’s a fun league for people to get out and enjoy themselves in the warm weather every year with as many teams and as many people as we can get,” says Cole Campbell, six-year veteran and head organizer for the league.

Individuals and teams can still register to join the league.

“There’s never a worry about the skill level, it’s mostly for fun,” Cole says. “We love seeing new faces out there. It gets us to play a little more and have a little more fun, but every year has always been fun.”

Typically, teams will field 10 people at a time, but given that this is a mixed league, teams are required to field a minimum of three men or women at a time.

In slo-pitch, the pitcher releases the ball slower and lobs it high into the air, providing batters more time to set up and react to the pitch.

The cost of registering a full team for the season is $450, with teams typically ranging from 15 to 20 players, while individuals can register for $20.

To register, potential teams are asked to contact the recreation office at 403-627-4322, while individuals looking to join a team can call Cole at 403-632-6059.





Man in turquoise shirt, grey pants and blue and red cap swings bat in a slo-pitch game


Presenter stands to the left of crowd viewing screen at open house

Pincher Creek climate risks and adaptations

Jeff Zukiwsky, project manager for the Climate Risk Assessment and Adaptation Plan, addressed regional climate projections and risks for the Pincher Creek area along with projected costs of climate events versus the cost and benefits of adaptation measures at a June 28 open house.

Results presented focused on climate-change risks facing Pincher Creek, how these risks could affect the community, risks to prioritize and how to adapt to those risks.

The main risks identified, based on likelihood and potential consequences, include flooding, wildfire, drought, water shortage, extreme heat, loss of winter recreation and wildfire smoke.

About 20 people turned out to hear Zukiwsky speak about steps taken in developing the plan, adaptation measures identified and the economic analysis of doing nothing.

The action plan contains 35 recommended climate adaptation actions, listed under five categories: health and well-being, disaster resilience, infrastructure, parks and environment, and economy. 

According to the report, while climate change is expected to bring some economic benefits to the Pincher Creek region, the total economic impact is projected to be overwhelmingly negative. 

Under the high future climate scenario, it is anticipated that climate change will lead to economic losses estimated at $18.3 million and $32.8 million (in 2020 dollars) per year, on average, by the 2050s and 2080s, respectively.

Those who attended the open house were given the opportunity to provide feedback, ask questions and talk with those involved in the project. 

Based on the reactions, comments and questions, Tristan Walker, municipal energy project lead, feels the crowd was on board with the plan as presented.



“The positive feedback sets us up to pursue adaptation measures and stay ahead of climate change, as opposed to reacting to it,” he says. 

“This is an opportunity to invest in our future and to leverage this plan as a tool to pursue funding to go forward with some of these adaptation measures.”

For Walker, a major takeaway was hearing about a lack of trust in the town and MD’s community engagement processes, as a number of residents expressed disgruntlement with past attempts to engage the community in various decisions and actions.

They made it clear that, in the past, they felt ignored when called upon for similar community engagement due to a lack of action taken based on their comments, suggestions and requests. 

“A big part of this is going to be us rebuilding that trust and saying, look, we really do value your input, and we’re working hard to implement these things within the scope of our responsibilities,” says Walker.

The Climate Risk Assessment and Adaptation Plan was collaboratively prepared by the Town and MD of Pincher Creek, the Piikani Nation and a consulting team led by All One Sky Foundation.

The Climate Risk Assessment and Adaptation Plan report contains a complete list of recommended actions. The costs of inaction and a full economic analysis of climate risks are also highlighted in the full report. 

Funding for this project was provided by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre’s Climate Resilience and Capacity Building Program. The Municipal Climate Change Action Centre is a partnership of Alberta Municipalities, Rural Municipalities of Alberta, and the Government of Alberta.

Residents with questions or comments are encouraged to email Tristan Walker.