True cowboy and music legend Ian Tyson chosen as Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal

CALGARY — Internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter and a ‘true cowboy’, Ian Tyson, will be the 2012 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal. 

He will be joined by the seven chiefs of the Treat Seven First Nations who will be Honourary Parade Marshals as the Stampede celebrates its Centennial this year.

Tyson’s professional career has spanned five decades and he’s instantly recognizable to everyone for his ties, love and passion to western heritage.

Mike Casey, president and chairman of the board for the Calgary Stampede, said Tyson “is someone who symbolizes western heritage and values, is an iconic Canadian and someone who embodies the Calgary Stampede. And as we get set to celebrate our Centennial, I’m thrilled to have the seven Honourary Parade Marshals join us as they represent a relationship that started 100 years ago and remains strong today.

“Right off the bat, Ian’s name came right to the top of the list everytime we chatted about that. He embodies western spirit, western heritage. As a songwriter, as a poet, as cowboy, as a landowner, as a rancher, I think he embodies everything that the Stampede has over the past 100 or more years. Certainly our first choice.”

The announcement was made before thousands of people at the Olympic Plaza. Celebrations included Rope Square Dancers, the Calgary Stampede Showband, the Young Canadians and a performance by country music star Paul Brandt.

Fireworks ended the celebration.

Tyson is a true Alberta legend who has always stayed true to his rural roots and western heritage. He’s achieved a number of honours over the years including the Order of Canada and being inducted into five industry Halls of Fame.

“The Calgary Stampede has always been close to my heart,” said Tyson. “I am honoured to have been asked to be the Parade Marshal and for the Centennial Stampede no less.

“I was surprised and delighted by that. Excited. It came as a total surprise . . . I’ve got to get my old horse ready and get her all cleaned up.”

Tyson remember his first year attending the Calgary Stampede in the mid 1950s as he came to see cowboy Casey Tibbs.

“It was really a thrill,” said Tyson of his foundest Stampede memory.

When asked by the media if he can believe it’s the 100th Stampede after coming for his first one more than 50 years ago, Tyson replied: “Yeah I can believe it. Calgary is a different place. Alberta is a different place. The legacy rolls on. And I hope it goes for another 100 (years).”

Joining Tyson at the front of the Parade, will be seven leaders from the Treaty 7 First Nations: Chief Charles Weasel Head of the Kainai Nation and Grand Chief of Treaty 7; Chief Fred Rabbit Carrier of the Siksika Nation; Chief Gayle Strikes With A Gun of the Piikani Nation; Chief Sandford Big Plume of the Tsuu T’ina Nation and from the Stoney Nakoda Nation; Chief Bruce Labelle of the Chiniki Band; Chief Ernest Wesley of the Wesley Band and Chief Darcy Dixon of the Bearspaw Band.

Country music star Paul Brandt, who performed during the Thursday announcement at the Olympic Plaza and will perform 10 straight nights at the Grandstand Show during the Stampede, said the first song he learned to play on the guitar was Tyson’s classic Four Strong Winds.

“I can’t think of anyone who is more appropriate to have lead this Centennial event and the parade. It’s an incredible choice,” said Brandt.

Casey said First Nations have played a prominent role in the Calgary Stampede since 1912 when 1,800 members of the Treaty 7 led the Parade at the request of Stampede visionary, Guy Weadick.

“If you look into the history of the Calgary Stampede and you think back to Guy Weadick in 1912 when he wanted to have the presence of the Treaty 7 First Nations in Calgary and it was against the law, and he went to bat for Treaty 7 and through his connections he was able to get them allowed to come into Calgary,” said Casey. “That tradition is very significant. It’s something we felt very strongly that we had to support.

“The Stampede Parade Marshal is one of our oldest and proudest traditions. They not only lead the Parade, but act as a reflection of the values and culture of the community. It is not an easy role to fill – but I think we have succeeded.”

Chief Weasel Head said it’s a “great honour and pleasure” to participate this year in the parade.

He said the “past informs the future” and Treaty 7 First Nations looks forward to continue to build on its strong relationship with the Stampede.

The Calgary Stampede Parade is Friday, July 6 beginning at 9 a.m. and it will set the stage for the Centennial version of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, July 6–15.

Source: Edmonton Journal

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