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Opening ceremonies kick off 71st Trappers’ Festival


Trappers’ Festival is underway.
The annual winter festival that ranks among the best and longest in Canada kicked off it’s 71st incarnation Wednesday afternoon with the opening ceremonies, held inside the headquarters located at the Wescana Inn in the former bar area. Despite some blustery conditions outside the headquarters were packed with Fur Queen candidates, Trappers’ Festival directors, dignitaries and more, all excited to see the festival get off the ground for another year.
“I’d like to welcome the visitors to Trappers’ Festival. It’s a little better this year because we have snow,” said Chairperson Sonny Lavallee, a reference to a balmy and nearly snowless festival in 2017 that drew a laugh from the audience.
Premier Brian Pallister was unable to attend the festival this year but Rochelle Squires, Minister of Sustainable Development, did attend on his behalf and brought praises from the province to Trappers’.
“It’s so important to remember the skills of our northern pioneers and pay homage to those skills,” said Squires, who would later put those skills to the test by taking part in the traditional log sawing to open the festival.
NDP leader Wab Kinew also was in attendance. Kinew has anticipated being in The Pas on Tuesday as well but a sudden commitment resulted in his trip being delayed, forcing the cancellation of a scheduled open house forum he had planned for Tuesday night.
“It’s awesome to see a festival pay homage to Manitoba’s northern roots,” said Kinew.
“It’s always an honor when I can say welcome to our hometown where our hearts are,” added NDP MLA for The Pas Amanda Lathlin.
A trio of NDP representatives were originally supposed to give greetings at the opening ceremonies however Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP Niki Ashton ended up suffering a minor car accident on her way to the ceremony and arrived just after the festivities had begun.
Manitoba Liberal Party leader Dougald Lamont was also in for the festival and joined Kinew, Squires and OCN Onekanew Christian Sinclair in the log saw.
“For years I’ve been saying this is the best festival,” said Lamont. “You cannot get this anywhere else.”
Lamont even went as far as to challenge Squires and Kinew to a dog sled race.
Mayor Jim Scott noted there will be a lot of tourists in for the festival and jokingly advised them the town takes all forms of currency and credit.
“You’re about to be treated like kings and queens,” said Scott. “We wished you’d stay forever.”
Sinclair meanwhile advised those tourists that the events they will see in the coming days are still practiced today by OCN members.
Following the dignitaries’ speeches, the Fur Queen candidates were introduced and presented with their jackets for the festival and the Trappers’ festival board of directors and youth board members were also introduced. Finally, the log saw was held, with the first time -and quite likely last time- teammates Wab Kinew and Dougald Lamont narrowly cutting through their log before Rochelle Squires and Christian Sinclair.
And with that the 71st Trappers’ Festival is now officially underway.

Trent Allen