Skip to main content

Tag: Piikani Nation

Semi with orange cab drives on Highway 3 near Crowsnest Pass

Highway 3 projects loom large in provincial highway planning

With or without federal support, improvements to a major southern Alberta highway continue because of its critical economic importance as an east-west corridor, the province says.

Eight Highway 3 projects are on the books after being separated into “bite-sized chunks” to keep costs in check, said Devin Dreeshen, minister of transportation and economic corridors.

Dreeshen pointed to Highway 3’s importance in connecting the province to British Columbia and Saskatchewan through an area of irrigation, agriculture and oil and gas.

“It’s such a breadbasket of Alberta,” said the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.

The National Trade Corridors Fund has so far failed to put money toward a list from the Alberta government of projects in southern, central and northern Alberta. All proposal calls are closed.

The province’s submissions would help pay for upgrades affecting Edmonton, Devon, Calgary, Balzac, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Crowsnest Pass, Piikani First Nation, Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod, Taber and dozens of other communities.


Ad for Shadowbar Shepherds Training in Pincher Creek


One of the unsuccessful projects is part of more than 210 kilometres of twinning-related work on Highway 3 and Highway 3X that’s at some stage of consultation, planning or design.

Work will start soon on the unsupported 46-kilometre section of Highway 3 between Taber and a hamlet called Burdett, west of Medicine Hat. A design-build contract won by Ledcor will see ground turn this spring and support about 750 jobs, a ministry spokesperson told the Local Journalism Initiative.

Also beginning this spring is detailed design engineering for the Highway 3X/Coleman bypass. Planning studies are finished for 14 km of work.

Work on 36 km of twinning west of Seven Persons to Medicine Hat starts this year, now that planning studies are complete and a detailed design engineering contract has been awarded.

In the fall, detailed design engineering is expected to start on 21 km of the highway from Blairmore to east of its intersection with Highway 22. More detailed design engineering should follow in the winter of 2024 for 20 km of work from east of Highway 22 to Highway 6 at Pincher Creek. Planning studies are finished for both.

Less far along are three other projects.

A functional planning study is complete for east of Burdett to west of Seven Persons, a section of 30 km. But the province needs to continue consulting with the Town of Bow Island and other stakeholders to finalize alignment, said the ministry.

For Pincher Creek to west of Fort Macleod, a functional planning study with Piikani Nation is underway for 38 km of Highway 3 work.


Ad for Blinds and More in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass


Mugshot of Shaine Smith

Piikani RCMP ask for assistance locating Shaine Smith

Piikani Nation RCMP have requested public assistance to locate Shaine Smith, 33, of Lundbreck. He has a history of fleeing from police and operating a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner, and is bound by a Canada-wide driving prohibition.

A Piikani RCMP officer attempted to stop Smith on April 24, at about 1:45 p.m., and he fled at excessive speeds.

Smith was located a second time and RCMP say he intentionally drove at the RCMP cruiser, swerving at the last second before colliding with the officer.

His disregard for others on the road is a large concern for RCMP.


Ad for Aurora Eggert Coaching in Beaver Mines


Smith is wanted for the following offences:

— flight from police

— two counts of operating while prohibited

— dangerous operation

— breach of probation

Smith is described as

— about 5 feet 10 inches tall

— 170 pounds

— brown hair and blue eyes


Ad for Creekview Dental Hygiene clinic in Pincher Creek


He is currently believed to be in possession of a 2004 gold-coloured Chevrolet Malibu with Alberta licence plate BWV 8504.

If you have any information regarding Shaine Smith’s whereabouts, please contact Piikani RCMP at 403-965-2000.


Alberta Crime Stoppers welcomes anonymous tips at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), online at, or through the P3 Tips app, which can be downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play.

Please contact your local RCMP if you have information about this incident or any other illegal activity. If you see a crime in progress or an emergency, call 911.

Tips can also be shared anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477, through the P3 Tips app (available from Google Play or the Apple Store), or online at Your anonymity is protected and you may be eligible for a cash reward if your tip leads to an arrest.



Two RCMP officers in red serge, two Indigenous men and one woman wearing head-dress regalia.

Piikani Nation RCMP focus on reconciliation and community engagement

Alberta RCMP are actively involved in the ongoing reconciliation process, with a dedicated effort from detachment members Alberta-wide to strengthen trust and build collaborative relationships with all Indigenous community members.

Officers throughout the province are actively listening and taking affirmative steps to formalize working relationships with Indigenous partners while consulting with them on community policing initiatives.

Sgt. Vince Bacon, the newly appointed detachment commander of Piikani Nation RCMP, and his team are wholly committed to enhancing relationships between the Piikani First Nation community and the police officers serving them.

“Our history has left generational scars on the lives of many. I know that we are just at the beginning of a long journey, and to rekindle that trust and to strengthen relationships will take time,” Bacon says.

“At first glance, policing a rural community versus an urban centre would seem as different as the landscapes themselves, but no matter the size of the community, we have a responsibility to those we serve. Part of that is actively participating in the healing process.”

Over the past eight months, Bacon and his team have concentrated on addressing policing gaps and priorities while fostering transparency and trust within the community. They aim to break the cycle of discrimination, violence, and neglect within the criminal justice system.


Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion


With a renewed outlook and plan, the goal is to establish relationships based on mutual respect and trust, encouraging community members to feel comfortable seeking police assistance without fear.

“Ultimately, everyone here has the same common goal — keeping your communities safe and secure for all residents,” Bacon says.

“But we cannot do this alone. When establishing our policing priorities, consultation is key. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. We cannot make decisions that affect you, without you.”

Understanding the significance of community involvement, detachment officers are encouraged to participate in traditional Indigenous events and ceremonies to enhance their cultural understanding.

“One of the best ways to build relationships is to meet face to face with Indigenous leaders, elders and community members as much as possible,” Bacon says.

“This allows us the opportunity to listen, to learn and to set priorities based on feedback from the community, as they teach us traditional Indigenous values that are unique to them.”



Red mural with Blackfoot Winter Count imagery painted on exterior wall of Piikani Nation RCMP detachment.

A wall mural on the Piikani Nation RCMP detachment building created with symbolic Blackfoot Winter Count imagery. Photo courtesy of Piikani Nation RCMP.


Bacon also wants officers to hear stories from elders and the community, even if those stories are sometimes difficult to hear.

“To benefit a community is to be part of the community,” he says. “Finding the time to acknowledge people in the communities that we police is important.”

He adds that all detachment vehicles have a Blackfoot Piikani decal as a sign of integration within the community.

With multiple collaborative projects underway, the detachment most recently finished a mural wall with symbolic Blackfoot Winter Count imagery. It serves as a pictorial calendar representing significant community events chosen by community leadership and elders.

After an impactful year of engagement, detachment employees have gained a deeper understanding of the backgrounds, cultures and experiences within Piikani First Nation.

The community has recognized and honoured the detachment’s commitment by awarding them a golden community medallion, gifted by the elders as a token of appreciation for their dedication to learning about the community’s culture and history.

“We must be open to listening,” says Bacon. “It is the little things that can make a significant impact.”


Ad for Ascent Dental in Pincher Creek



Silver handcuffs on grey background

Piikani woman arrested, cocaine trafficking charge laid

Piikani Nation RCMP arrested an unnamed 24-year-old female following a Jan. 8 search of a home in Brocket. RCMP executed the search warrant after receiving several anonymous tips through the Crime Stoppers program.

Found in the residence were ½ ounce of suspected crack cocaine, multiple unconfirmed prescription medications and drug paraphernalia.

A charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking in a controlled substance has been laid relating to the cocaine.

The woman was released on her own undertaking and will make her first court appearance Mar. 7 in Pincher Creek.

A local state of emergency was declared on Jan. 2 by the Piikani chief and council in response to the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis.

Anyone with information regarding drug activity or any other crime can phone Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS). Information and tips can also be sent online at or by cellphone using the P3 Tips app.



Ad for Dragons Heart Quilt Shop in Pincher Creek


Piikani Nation logo of buffalo on drum with feathers, on red background

Three Piikani Nation members lost to apparent drug overdoses

RCMP on the Piikani Nation are looking into the deaths of three women, between the ages of 30 and 60, believed to have died from fentanyl overdoses.

Few details have been released but Alberta RCMP public information officer Troy Savinkoff confirmed to Shootin’ the Breeze that the women were found deceased in separate instances on Dec. 25, 27 and 29.

While the deaths show signs of drug overdose, Savinkoff added, the final determination will be made by the medical examiner assigned to the case.

Piikani RCMP issued a warning Dec. 27, shared by Piikani Tsi Nii Ka Sin, of a “bad batch of drugs” in circulation in the area after the second death, adding that narcan administration did not appear to be successful.

On Tuesday, Chief Troy Knowlton and Piikani Nation council enacted a state of emergency for the community. Under the Federal Emergencies Act, Knowlton said it will allow measures to prevent drug use, improve emergency treatment and provide additional resources to agencies dealing with both drug abuse and its side effects.



The chief opened a Jan. 3 statement by saying, “The situation affecting our nation is not unique to us. Drugs, especially opioids and fentanyl, may prove to be the public policy challenge of the century, affecting every community from coast to coast. However, in a tight-knit community like ours, the impacts of drugs, especially addiction and, tragically, death, particularly among our youth, reverberate pain throughout our entire nation.”

Acknowledging that Piikani Nation is facing a long-term and complicated issue, the chief and council plan to take action by working with local RCMP to crack down on gangs and drug traffickers with augmented law-enforcement measures to tackle the source of the problem.

“It is my goal, and the goal of my council, to bring an end to or at least significantly reduce the availability of drugs,” Knowlton said, “and to prevent deaths among those who have had their lives ensnared by drugs.”

His words come just days after a Dec. 27 Alberta RCMP report stated that officers responded to over 100 per cent more drug overdoses provincewide from January to November 2023 than in all of 2022 — with fentanyl at the centre of most of the fatalities.

The RCMP statistics also revealed a nearly 25 per cent climb in naloxone deployments by its members in 2023 compared to the year prior. 

An even more alarming figure: 1,262 opioid-related deaths occurred in Alberta from January to August of last year, 255 higher than in the same period of 2022.


Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


Jalessa Joy Crazy Bull, teenaged Indigenous girl with shoulder-length brown hair and braces. Missing from Piikani Nation.

Missing Piikani Teen – Jalessa Joy Crazy Bull

RCMP on the Piikani Nation are appealing for the public’s help in finding a missing 17-year-old girl.

Jalessa Joy Crazy Bull was last seen in Brocket at noon this past Monday, Nov. 20. Authorities are worried for the teen’s well-being and would like to speak with her.

Jalessa Joy is described as being about 5 feet, 1 inch tall and weighing 95 pounds. She has brown hair with black tips, and brown eyes. It’s believed she was wearing black clothing, including a thin black sweater.

Anyone with information of Jalessa Joy’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Piikani Nation RCMP detachment at 403-965-2000. 

You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), if you wish to remain anonymous or go online to



Twin Butte cenotaph with flags in background

Remembrance to pay homage – Local services

As Canadians across the country take a moment Saturday to honour our fallen heroes, and those who have served our country, several local Remembrance Day services are planned to allow us to remember.

In Pincher Creek, a ceremony will be held at Community Hall beginning at 10:45 a.m., followed by a reception at the Legion.

Three separate commemorations will be held in Crowsnest Pass. A full community service will take place at Crowsnest Consolidated High School, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The Coleman Legion will hold a service at the cenotaph at 12:30 p.m. The Bellevue branch is set to begin at 2 p.m.

Twin Butte Community Hall will also host its own service for residents in the Waterton Lakes area. It begins in the hall at 10:30 a.m., before moving out to the cenotaph at 10:45.

Piikani Nation is holding its Remembrance Day service a day earlier, on Friday morning at 10:30, in the Piikani Nation High School gymnasium.

Organizers ask those attending services to arrive early and be seated at least five minutes before the start time, to accommodate the colour parties entering the building.


Ad with details of Pincher Creek Remembrance Day service


Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


Exterior view of Piikani Nation RCMP building in Brocket.

Local jail guard charged with sexual assault, breach of trust

A former civilian jail guard at the Piikani Nation RCMP detachment in Brocket is facing criminal charges of sexual assault and breach of trust after an alleged in-custody assault last week.

Charles G. Provost, 32, of Brocket, has been removed from his position as a Corps of Commissionaire guard at the detachment, following an investigation by the Southern Alberta RCMP general investigations section.

Police say the assault is alleged to have been committed in the early morning hours of Oct. 13 against a woman lodged inside a cell.

Charges were laid following the investigation, which included a review of cell block video surveillance.

Supt. Rick Jane, acting district officer for Southern Alberta RCMP, said in a statement that the force “takes all sexual assault incidents very seriously.”

“Once our officers were notified that this had happened, action was taken very quickly and a thorough investigation was completed,” he said.

“No matter what the circumstances are, anyone in the care of the RCMP must be protected and we will not tolerate a breach of trust.” 

RCMP have also ordered an operational review to see if any changes to policies and procedures should be made in light of the case.

Provost has been released from custody with conditions and is scheduled to appear Nov. 23 in the Alberta court of justice in Pincher Creek.


Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta


Shootin' the Breeze ad for free trial subscription


Every Child Matters billboard unveiled by Piikani Child and Family Services

To coincide with this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Piikani Child and Family Services unveiled a new billboard proclaiming a powerful message: EVERY CHILD MATTERS.

Located near the Piikani Travel Centre along Highway 3, the billboard was officially revealed during a touching event last Friday.

The new sign is dedicated to all Piikani Nation members who were impacted by residential schools, and reaffirms the message to every child in the community that they matter.

“When the 94 Calls to Action came out, it was really evident that Piikani needed to have some sort of acknowledgement, a way to let everyone know that we are part of Blackfoot territory and we were affected by residential schools,” says Mary Plain Eagle, child intervention manager with PCFS.

Mary is a third-generation survivor of residential schools, as she, along with her parents and grandparents, experienced the hardships many Indigenous people know all too well.

The unfortunate reality is that Mary is not an outlier. Many members of the Piikani Nation are multi-generational survivors of institutions where children were stripped of their freedoms, their cultures and their identities.

Many who endured residential school life were present for the unveiling, which featured heartfelt speeches from elders Peter Strikes With A Gun and Herman Many Guns, Piikani Nation Chief Troy Knowlton and the executive director of PCFS, Kelly Provost.


Ad for Vape in Pincher Creek


They spoke to the horrors of residential schools, of colonization, but also of the need to heal and rise above these hardships.

“This sign not only symbolizes our healing process, but it also signifies our ability to move forward with our loyalty to our way of life,” Mary says.

According to her, this initiative was first proposed to former Piikani chief Stan Grier and council, all of whom were on board with the idea.

Earlier this year, Grier was replaced by Chief Knowlton, and so the initiative was brought forth once more to the new chief and council, who were absolutely for it, as well.

“I just feel like it’s been a long time coming,” Mary says.

“Thirty years ago, you would never have heard this sort of acknowledgement for children that were in residential school, and now as time goes on, we’re starting to hear more about it and are acknowledging what happened.”

Following the event, spectators gathered at a teepee set up outside the Piikani Travel Centre, where folks received complimentary merchandise and a free lunch.

On behalf of the PCFS, Mary extends gratitude to the North Stone drum group, Wade Plain Eagle and crew for the sign structure, Little Miss Piikani Alyson Red Young Man, the PCFS staff and everyone else who made this possible.


20230929 PCFS Billboard 12
20230929 PCFS Billboard 17
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4125
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4067
20230929 PCFS Billboard 4
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4055
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4073
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4060
20230929 PCFS Billboard 8
20230929 PCFS Billboard 14
20230929 PCFS Billboard 5
20230929 PCFS Billboard 16
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4164
20230929 PCFS Billboard 7
20230929 PCFS Billboard 15
20231004 PCFS Billboard
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4129
20230929 PCFS Billboard 6
20230929 PCFS Billboard 10
20230929 PCFS Billboard 1
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4174
20230929 PCFS Billboard 9
20230929 PCFS Billboard 11
20231004 PCFS Billboard 4168


Ad for Sara Hawthorn, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass realtor
Faded and torn "Every Child Matters" T-shirt, small grey moccasins and child's black and white running shoes hang from barbed-wire fence at Piikani Nation. The black-and-white shoes are against a bright orange sunset while the other shots have a cloudy grey sky as a background.

Fading Intentions – My Little Corner

What crosses your mind as you pass through the west end of Brocket and see the memorial display on the fence line? Does the row of shoes, tobacco ties and shirts grab your attention or has it faded and become one with the background?


Every Child Matters fence-line display at Brocket in June 2021. Teddy Bears, children's shoes, tobacco ties and orange ribbons hanging from barbed wire.

June 2021 photo of the fence-line display at Brocket by Shannon Peace.


When passing by, my mind always goes back to the June evening in 2021 when the sky blazed orange and Brenda Shenton captured the amazing image below — a pair of black-and-white child’s shoes against a brilliant orange sunset. No enhancement was applied to the photo — you are seeing exactly what we saw that night.

Never had the need for truth and reconciliation been stronger than in the weeks following the 2021 discovery of unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. It was not only the Indigenous people fighting for recognition and rights, it was non-Indigenous Canadians from coast to coast demanding answers and action.

While residential school history was, in reality, only one conversation with an Indigenous person away, the topic was seldom in the public eye. Suddenly it presented itself boldly and unapologetically, with a ferocity matching that orange sky.

Truths carried by generations of Indigenous people affected by the residential school system were now unequivocally told to an audience that was receptive and ready to listen. Efforts to kill the Indian in the child were on display under a harsh international spotlight and, fuelled by anger and empathy, were shared from coast to coast and beyond.

Some were embarrassed, apologetic or both, while others denied history. Whatever the case, ugliness was front and centre in the boldest of colours, and was inspiring change and demanding action.

People of all cultures made a conscious effort to learn more and to support the need for truth and reconciliation. 

It was a necessary first step.


Every Child Matters monument at Piikani Nation. Child's black-and-white shoes hanging from barbed-wire fence with a red tobacco tie against a brilliant orange sunset.

June 2021 image taken at Piikani Nation by Brenda Shenton.


While past actions and ignorance can’t be changed, we can do better going forward. Whether we learned about residential schools as part of our education or only recently, today is the time for meaningful action. The truths we know now demand attention, and bright orange serves as a reminder.

The energy exuding from the image of a blazing sky behind a tiny pair of runners hanging from barbed wire and the feeling it continues to bring to me two years later, is what inspires me to persist in contributing to truth and reconciliation efforts.

In case one is inclined to forget, the teddy bears hanging at the roadside in Piikani Nation also keep things fresh.

Piikani elders are gracious when sharing their knowledge, some speaking for the first time about their experiences. Those inclined to listen may learn about the Creator, Mother Earth, family relations, knowledge keeping and the Ksi ski ni (bald eagle).



Many have learned about residential school history and reflected on its impact.

Many have shown new respect to Indigenous people in our community.

Many have attended powwows and looked beyond the regalia to learn the meaning of the dances and the honour songs.

Many have a new understanding of the addictions and mental health challenges that affect Indigenous people.

Many have newfound respect and have allowed dignity based on what has been learned.

Many have acknowledged the truth that Indigenous women and girls have a higher risk of being victims of violence and homicide than non-Indigenous females.

Many have examined personal biases and strive to do better.

And many are teaching their children difficult history lessons and moulding them into people who will be inspired to make change.

Every action is commendable.

For the Indigenous and for us all, there is new hope, but it will be generations more before reconciliation can lead to true healing of deep wounds.


Every Child Matters T-shirt, torn and faded, hangs from barbed-wire fence at Piikani Nation monument.

A T-shirt, once bright orange, hangs faded and torn on the fence-line monument at Brocket. September 2023 photo by Shannon Peace.


Indigenous people have fought for change for many years. Our job is to uplift their voices and to fight alongside them. We can contribute by amplifying their voices in spaces where they aren’t heard and help address the changes, wants and needs that are their reality. We can keep the stories alive and make sure history does not repeat itself.

What strikes me now, when passing the roadside monument, is one particular T-shirt. Once bright orange, two years in the elements has faded it to nearly white. Despite being tattered and torn by an environment beyond its control, it still exudes a sense of pride from its place on the barbed-wire fence.

People were driven to action by the vivid orange. But it seems the spirit of support is fading along with the shirt. Good intentions are fading.

The next time you drive through Piikani Nation, why not see that ragged shirt as a symbol of resilience and perseverance? Imagine it in brilliant colour and let it motivate you to help create a brighter future.

Letting truth and reconciliation intentions fade away is like killing the Indian in the child all over again. 

Let’s see orange together.



Sparkly, multi-coloured shoes hang from the fence-line monument at Piikani Nation in June 2021.
June 2021 photo by Shannon Peace.
Once sparkly, multi-coloured shoes with the colour faded away, hang from the fence-line monument at Piikani Nation in September 2023.

Since 2021, the colour has all but disappeared from these shoes. September 2023 photo by Shannon Peace.

New, orangish leather child's moccasins hang from the fence-line monument at Piikani Nation in June 2021.

June 2021 photo by Shannon Peace.

Child's moccasins, their leather faded to grey, hang from the fence-line monument at Piikani Nation in September 2023.

The colour of the moccasins has faded to grey due to time in the elements. September 2023 photo by Shannon Peace.



Visual presentation of this article published in the Oct. 4, 2023 print issue of Shootin’ the Breeze.


Newspaper presentation of Fading Intentions article. Three photos at the top. Orange background behind text fades away to the bottom of the article





Photo of Indigenous woman with brown hair pulled; Lillian Scout of Piikani Nation.

Lillian Kathleen Scout located safe

UPDATE: Sept. 10, 2023

Piikani Nation RCMP have advised that Lillian Scout has been located and is safe.

ORIGINAL POST: Sept. 4, 2023

Piikani Nation RCMP has requested assistance from the public in locating Lillian Kathleen Scout.

The 43-year-old woman was last seen in the Brocket area on about Aug. 4, 2023, and there is concern for her well-being.

Lillian Scout is described as being 5′ 5″ and about 200 pounds. She has brown hair, brown eyes, and a heart tattoo on her right thumb.

If you have any information regarding Lillian’s whereabouts, please contact Piikani Nation RCMP at 403-965-2001 or your local police.

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at, or by using the P3 app available through the
Apple App or Google Play stores.

Indigenous woman with pulled-back grey hair and glasses holds her hand to her chest while accepting an honour from a woman with shoulder-length grey hair and glasses.

Triumph of Spirit

On the afternoon of May 26, Beatrice Little Mustache stood in a spectacular and festively decorated University of British Columbia auditorium to address the large graduating class. Beatrice had been invited there specifically to receive the highest award the university gives, namely an honorary doctor of laws degree (honoris causa, for the sake of honour).

The chancellor of the university, who stood next to her at the podium that day, was Steven Point, former lieutenant-governor of B.C. and the first Indigenous person to hold the chancellor position there.

Point is of the Skowkale First Nation and is a huge advocate for Indigenous Peoples. His pride, on hearing Beatrice’s journey and contributions throughout her life so far, shone from his face that afternoon.

That journey to get to this remarkable point in time for Beatrice Little Mustache has been a long one, with many trials. Born in 1948, she was the fourth of eight children of Nick and Agnes Smith and was delivered by a midwife on the Piikani reserve at Brocket.

Growing up they were all raised in Blackfoot culture and speak fluent Blackfoot, something the church tried hard to eradicate. They were disciplined with love not strapping, like in the residential school, and are deeply religious.

Her parents taught her the values she carries today: “To be kind, caring, gentle and positively assertive when I need to be.”

They also taught her the seven sacred teachings, through the stories of her ancestors. Those teachings are truth, humility, wisdom, honesty, courage, respect and love.


Indigenous woman dressed in turquoise and light-coloured leather regalia standing on rocks with blue sky in background

Beatrice Little Mustache (Ii naak sii pii taa kii), in traditional regalia made by her own hand, stands proudly against the wind in the hills overlooking her home on Piikani Nation. An elder and knowledge keeper, Beatrice is one who looks for lessons in life experiences. Her ability to turn around the most difficult of situations, and her passion for helping others and for Indigenous Peoples advocacy, are positive traits she is known for. In late May, she was presented with an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of British Columbia.
Photo by Leah Hennel, Alberta Health Services



Vice-chancellor Deborah Buszard spoke at great length to the graduates about Beatrice’s journey and her accomplishments to date. She then officially requested that chancellor Point confer the honorary doctor of laws degree on her.

She then invited Beatrice’s nephew Ryan Smith to the stage, where he stood and profoundly sang a Black Horse Society song, one that belongs specifically to her family (clan).


Indigenous man with short greying hair wearing a black shirt with intricate beadwork sings while another Indigenous man and a white woman listen intently behind him.

After an honorary degree was bestowed on Beatrice Little Mustache, her nephew Ryan Smith sang an a capella family song. Steven Point, chancellor of the University of British Columbia, was visibly drawn into the spirit of the song after presenting Beatrice with her degree.
Photo courtesy of Beatrice Little Mustache


Buszard stated that Beatrice was a survivor of residential schools but “did not allow the trauma she endured to break her spirit, nor her will to seek lifelong wisdom and serve the needs of others.”

That journey is now 44 years long, working in positions in adult and child welfare in all levels of government — band, municipal, provincial and federal. Beatrice has held leadership positions with Piikani Family Services, Alberta Provincial Child Welfare and the First Nations Health Consortium. All in the service of her Piikani First Nation and other Treaty 7 First Nation communities.

What is remarkable about Beatrice is that while working full time she raised five children and graduated from Mount Royal College with a diploma in social work. She later went on to acquire a bachelor of social work degree at the University of Calgary.

These days, Beatrice is active as a longtime trustee with the Peigan Board of Education, including 13 years as its chairwoman.

Since 2017 she has worked hard to promote enhanced education on issues pertaining to treatment and planning for First Nations youth in care. This work is done under the umbrella of a program known as Jordan’s Principle. This principle is described as a child-first, needs-based initiative that ensures all First Nations children have equitable access to all government-funded services.

This initiative came about after five-year-old Jordan River Anderson of Norway House Cree Nation died in hospital in 2005 amid a jurisdictional dispute between provincial and federal governments.


Shootin' the Breeze connection to more local stories


More recently, Beatrice has taken a leading role in trying to address the opioid crisis on the Piikani reserve. She shared a statistic with me about how many have been lost in one year there that left me stunned. She is undeterred in her determination to do all she can for her people.

Her words to the UBC graduates last month were profoundly important and in them were several messages.

It was her observation to them all that “Education is the key to positive change in all social and economic problems in life.”

She went on to say, “In this life we never know where the journey will lead us. In this era of truth and reconciliation, it is important for you graduates to be considerate of First Nations people and more importantly our children. Be respectful to their culture and their language and always seek guidance from the elders in your community. For they are the knowledge keepers.”

She then challenged the grads to step out of their comfort zone and go educate themselves on First Nations territories. “Learn our culture and protocols; maybe even attend a powwow. By doing this you will see a world different from who you are. You will see the seven sacred teachings in action.”


Two Indigenous woman with glasses wearing bright turquoise outfits.

Beatrice Little Mustache, right, and daughter Edna Fairbrother at a 2020 event in Cranbrook.
Photo courtesy of Beatrice Little Mustache


Beatrice Little Mustache has faced a number of extremely challenging life experiences, including a devastating house fire, the death of two spouses and a child, and the continuing mistreatment of her First Nations people and children. But after 44 years she continues to apply those seven sacred values in her advocacy on behalf of children, parents and elders.

A traditional dancer and gifted seamstress of regalia, she participates in community events to unite families and to honour elders. She is, among many things, an ardent golfer and scored a hole-in-one on the Pincher Creek course in 2020.

Beatrice Little Mustache’s resilience serves as an example to all of us, for hers is a life that has been lived and her journey continues.


First published in the June 7, 2023, issue of Shootin’ the Breeze.

Four Indigenous Piikani Nation men wearing orange T-shirts drum and sing on Indigenous Peoples Day

Shootin’ the Breeze – June 28, 2023

Piikani Nation celebrates Niitsitapi honour

Drummers Joshua Crow Shoe, Brian Plain Eagle, Jaron Weasel Bear and Kyle Plain Eagle of Piikani Nation lead a solidarity walk on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Indigenous woman wearing sunglasses holds up a beaded medallion while speaking into a microphone

School ambassadors recognized as Piikani Days wrap up

Students, educators and elders wrapped up this spring’s Piikani Days at Brocket’s Education Campus last Friday. 

They’d spent much of the past week celebrating Piikanissini, or “who we are as a people,” through song and dance and traditional Blackfoot games. 

The Piikani, one of four First Nations within the Blackfoot Confederacy, have criss-crossed what is now southwestern Alberta and northern Montana for millennia before their more recent ancestors signed Treaty 7 in the late 19th century. 

They intend to preserve their way of life for millennia to come, as their credo makes unambiguously clear. 


Two young Indigenous students try drumming
Young Indigenous male in action during hand games
Indigenous woman wearing sunglasses holds up a beaded medallion while speaking into a microphone
Woman with pulled-back grey hair and wearing a yellow vest leads students in red T-shirts and vests in a run
Four Indigenous men sing and drum


“We’ll be known forever by the forever we leave behind,” Billy Yellowhorn reminded the kids as they filed back into Napi Playground Elementary. 

They’d met outside to recognize first-grader Kacey Patrick and fifth-grader Tavyen Many Guns, chosen to represent the school on the basis of their Three A’s: academics, attendance and attitude. 

Their proficiency in the Blackfoot language, the sinew that binds their culture, was certainly no less important, according to Blackfoot instructor Jo-Ann Yellowhorn. 

“It’s important to us that our children maintain our identity, our language and our ways,” Yellowhorn told Shootin’ the Breeze after Friday’s ceremony. 

The community of Brocket has celebrated Piikani Days for at least 14 years now, and Yellowhorn says that in that time she’s seen a rising swell of community support and investment from residents and from their Kainaim confederates. 



This year marks a shift from Piikani Nation’s past practice of crowning girl students as Piikani princesses. 

Instead, young Patrick and Many Guns are cultural ambassadors who will represent their school at public events. 

“We wanted to give boys a chance to be role models as well,” Yellowhorn explained. 

The elementary school and neighbouring Piikani Nation Secondary are inviting anyone who wants to celebrate Blackfoot culture to join their June 21 powwow at the high school’s gym. 

The powwow will feature exhibition and honour dances, a free giveaway, and an Owl and Rabbit dance contest, among other highlights. 

Doors open at Piikani Nation Secondary at 5 p.m. sharp. 

For more information, please call Yellowhorn at 403-965-3877 or Maria Crow Shoe at 403-632-5248. 


Womens' hands joined in a gesture of comfort

Increased demand for victim services, volunteers needed

Ranchlands Victim Services, the only 24-hour crisis unit in Alberta, is looking for volunteers who can devote time to assisting victims of crime and tragedy with their short-term needs.

In partnership with the RCMP and additional co-partners, RVS provides victims with emotional support, practical assistance and referrals to community resources for continued support. 

According to Shelly-Anne Dennis, executive program manager, the organization has recently experienced increased demand for their services, requiring more volunteers to provide victims with support. 

“We’re seeing more cases of domestic violence and sexual assault, which means a greater need for our services,” she says.



Volunteers typically go out to crisis calls and may provide court support, accompaniment, transportation and other means of assisting victims.

Supporting the communities of Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass, Fort Macleod, Claresholm and Piikani Nation, RVS emphasizes the provision of a co-ordinated, skilled and efficient response to victims of traumatic events. 

“Being able to administer trauma support to victims of crime and tragedy in our community is a very crucial and beneficial service,” Dennis says.

The RCMP often rely on RVS staff and volunteers to provide support to victims and their families, while they focus on potential offenders, particularly in cases of criminal activity.



Part of the struggle to find volunteers comes with the rigorous background check that each potential volunteer or staff member of RVS has to go through to be accepted.

“You have to pass an enhanced security clearance, which is the same clearance as an RCMP officer, so it’s a very strict background check,” Dennis says

Employees and volunteers of RVS have a level of security clearance that exposes them to police files that they must keep confidential. A thorough background check is crucial in ensuring someone is suited to sign on.

These background checks are meant not only to look for criminal history, but also to look for anything that could affect work credibility or re-traumatize someone who was once a victim themself.



This could include a recent history of domestic violence, assault or financial stressors.

In time, Dennis hopes RVS can get more volunteers to maintain a full unit to service and support our communities.

“I’m pretty passionate about this job — it isn’t just a job to me. I love helping people and the work I do to help said people,” she says.

“We hope that our work decreases the amount of trauma that people have to go through and that eventually, with the proper help, they could move back into a normal lifestyle sooner.”

If you wish to become a volunteer with RVS, the advocate application is available online at




Local Stories Obituaries Story Idea?





Mined mountainside with greenery in foreground and blue water pond

‘Winds of change’ bring renewable energy project to Tent Mountain

Peter Doyle, CEO at Montem Resources Ltd., said the company plans to sell half of its stake in the Tent Mountain site to the Calgary-based electricity wholesaler TransAlta Corp. TransAlta will lead the development of a 320-megawatt pumped hydrogen energy storage facility on the mountain.

The Tent Mountain Renewable Energy Complex (TM-REX) will be powered by an off-site wind farm that will feed into a new transmission line, Blain van Melle, TransAlta’s vice-president, told Shootin’ the Breeze in a Feb. 24 video conference with Doyle. The project meanwhile envisions an off-site hydrolyzer that will generate “14,000 tonnes each year of clean, green hydrogen.

“This is the equivalent of displacing 50 million litres of diesel each year, or taking 2,000 heavy trucks off our highways,” Doyle says in a promotional video on Montem’s website. 

Doyle and van Melle declined to specify where the companies might build the wind farm or the hydrolyzer. 

With plans still in the distant offing, Doyle said Montem has been in talks with the Piikani Nation, which he said “has aspirations to build a significant wind farm.” 



“Anything that we do on [the wind farm] is most likely going to be in unison with either Piikaani by itself, or the entire Blackfoot confederacy,” he told the Breeze

Van Melle said it’s for the Alberta Electric System Operator, the non-profit company that manages Alberta’s electricity grid, to determine the transmission line’s exact specifications. 

Montem said in a Feb. 17 press release that the project would create about 200 construction jobs and about 30 permanent jobs after TM-REX comes online. 

Doyle said the Tent Mountain mine, unreclaimed since it was abandoned in 1983, had roughly enough capacity to produce one million tonnes of metallurgical coal every year for 13 years, whereas TM-REX will generate emissions-free energy for up to 80 years. 

Peter Loughheed’s Progressive Conservative government halted coal exploration along the eastern Rockies in 1976 because the slopes feed environmentally sensitive headwaters. 



The United Conservatives under Premier Jason Kenney announced in the spring of 2020 that they would lift the ban, but quickly reversed course when the initiative provoked strong opposition. 

Doyle said Montem realized “the winds of change were blowing” in 2021, when Ottawa asked for an environmental assessment for the proposed reboot of the Tent Mountain coal mine. The Alberta Energy Regulator then rejected Benga Mines’ (another Australian coal company’s) application to reboot an open-pit mine on nearby Grassy Mountain, stating that the project wasn’t in the public interest.

At that point, Doyle said, “It became increasingly clear that there was too high a risk to continue with the [Tent Mountain] coal mine.” 

The mountain’s coal deposits will be “sterilized,” Doyle said, using an industry term that means the hydrocarbons will stay in-ground. 

Doyle and van Melle said Montem and TransAlta would continue to meet with Pass stakeholders moving forward. 

Doyle said he expects Montem’s shareholders will approve the TM-REX sale in late March or early April.


More Local Stories







Laurie Tritschler author information. Photo of red-haired man with moustache, beard and glasses, wearing a light blue shirt in a circle over a purple accent line with text details and connection links

Snow accumulation is measured by four brown Oldman River Brewing beer cans. A storm watch has been issued for 30 to 50 cm of snow.

Winter storm watch issued for Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass

Significant snowfall – 30 to 50 centimetres (12 to 20 inches) — is expected in southwestern Alberta, prompting Environment Canada to issue a winter storm watch for Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass, Piikani Nation, Waterton and surrounding area.

The storm will hit with heavy snow falling early Monday morning. It is anticipated to slow down in the afternoon, but will intensify again later in the day and snow will continue to fall through. Tuesday.

The highest amounts are currently expected in the Waterton area.

Be prepared!

Share your weather photos with us by email or text.



The winter storm watch was issued at 3:50 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023 for the MD of Pincher Creek near Beauvais Lake Provincial Park, Cowley, Burmis, Maycroft and Twin Butte; the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass including Coleman and Frank; Piikani Nation; Waterton Lakes National Park and Blood Reserve; and MD of Ranchland.



Circular shot of Shannon Peace – smiling woman with shoulder-length light brown hair and glasses, wearing a black shirt, over a purple accent line with text details about her Shootin' the Breeze role


Brocket man sough in relation to fatal crash notice on red and blue police-lights background with RCMP logo

Accused drunk driver charged in crash that killed his son

Fort Macleod RCMP are looking for a Brocket man charged in connection with a highway collision that killed his young son last fall.

Ryan Scott Potts, 38, was allegedly drunk behind the wheel when his Dodge Caravan collided with a semi-trailer at the intersection of Highways 2 and 3 late Friday, Oct. 21, according to Cpl. Paul Bedard. 

Potts was driving with his five and seven-year-old sons when the Dodge collided with the semi’s trailer. All three were rushed to Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, where Bedard said the boys were treated with “serious, life-threatening injuries” and then transported to hospital in Calgary.  

Tragically, the five-year-old died of his injuries, but his older brother survived and was later discharged. 

Potts was too badly injured to give a breath sample at the scene of the wreck, but Bedard said a toxicology screen showed that his blood-alcohol level was around 0.238 shortly after the collision. 

The legal driving limit in Alberta is 0.08. 



Potts was charged in December with nine offences related to the collision. Mounties are looking to arrest Potts, current whereabouts unknown, for the following offences: 

—Impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death

—Impaired operation of motor vehicle causing bodily harm

—Impaired operation of motor vehicle

—Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death

—Dangerous operation of motor vehicle causing bodily harm

—Operation of motor vehicle while prohibited

—Criminal negligence causing death

—Criminal negligence causing bodily harm

—Driving an uninsured motor vehicle

Anyone who knows where to find Potts is asked to call Fort Macleod RCMP at 403-553-7220 or phone Crimestoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS). Tips can also be sent online at or by cell phone using the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.


More from the Breeze:

Prevention is key to vehicle theft issues

Crowsnest Pass woman among four charged after recovery of stolen vehicles



Laurie Tritschler author information. Photo of red-haired man with moustache, beard and glasses, wearing a light blue shirt in a circle over a purple accent line with text details and connection links

Krystal Red Young Man – young woman looking down from the camera in a kitchen

Krystal Red Young Man located

Update: Dec. 3 @ 12:15 p.m.

Piikani Nation RCMP advise that Krystal Red Young Man has been located and is safe.



Original Post – Dec. 2

RCMP seek public assistance to locate missing woman

Krystal Red Young Man of Piikani Nation was last seen Nov. 20, 2022, and there is concern for her well-being.

Krystal is described as being 5’1″ and 130 pounds, with a slim build. She has brown hair, brown eyes and a medium complexion.

When last seen, Krystal was wearing black jeans, a black sweater and a black jacket, along with grey shoes.

If you have seen Krystal Red Young Man, or have information about her whereabouts, please contact Piikani RCMP at 403-965-2000.

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at or by using the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.



Obituary for Sally Boerema

Sally was born in Evans City, Pennsylvania, to Bruce and Myrtle Sutton on Nov. 23, 1951. She enjoyed her childhood with her siblings, Susan, Wayne and Wendy. From a young age, Sally learned of the love of Jesus and built a faith that never wavered throughout her life.

After graduating from high school, Sally attended Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was there that Sally met the love of her life, Melvin Boerema. Mel and Sally were married on Aug. 10, 1974, and moved to Sand Lake, Michigan.

Sally married Mel knowing that he was going to work as a minister with Indigenous people with North American Indigenous Ministries. In the spring of 1977, a year after the birth of their first daughter, Sonya, Mel and Sally moved to Agassiz, British Columbia, to work with the Sto:lo people on the Seabird Island First Nation. While living in Agassiz, their second daughter, Amanda, was born.

In 1979, Mel and Sally moved to work with the Nlaka’pamux First Nations in Lytton, B.C. Mel and Sally welcomed their son, Daniel, while living there. In 1989, the family moved to Vernon, B.C., where Mel and Sally worked with the Syilx Okanagan people and ran a wilderness camping program, Kla-How-Ya Wilderness Trails, for Indigenous youth.

When Kla-How-Ya Wilderness Trails found a new home in the foothills of Alberta, Mel and Sally moved to Pincher Creek in 2002. Mel and Sally found their heart’s home with the Blackfoot people of the Piikani Nation and became involved in the Lighthouse Church there. Sally found joy in teaching cooking and baking to girls in the community, sewing with her friends, and serving through the church.

One of Sally’s greatest joys was being a grandmother, and she delighted in her grandchildren, Sena, Soren, Violet, Nicola, Juliet and Vanessa. She was a creative and connected grandma, always finding crafts, cooking challenges and adventures to share with the kids and offering unconditional love, support and snuggles.

Sally is survived by her husband of 48 years, Mel Boerema; her daughters, Sonya (Troy) Bradley, Amanda (Tim) Doling; her son, Dan Boerema; and her grandchildren. She is also survived by her father, Bruce Sutton, and her siblings Wayne Sutton and Wendy Barkley.

Sally was predeceased by her mother, Myrtle Sutton, and by her sister Susan Emelander.

A wake was held for Sally at the Lighthouse Church on the Piikani First Nation on Sunday, Nov. 20, and Sally’s funeral was held at Creekside Community Church in Pincher Creek at on Nov. 21.


Funeral arrangements entrusted to Snodgrass Funeral Homes