I am about  to complete my reign as the 2016 Indian Princess–I can’t believe it! If you are a Treaty 7 woman between the ages of 18 and 25, I really encourage you to apply for to be the 2017 Indian Princess. You will have the opportunity of a lifetime to share your culture locally, nationally and internationally. Read more in this interview about the incredible places I got to go and people I got to meet. The Calgary Stampede is now accepting applications and the deadline is Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. Email Indianprincess@calgarystampede.com for an application or visit my Facebook page for more information.

Calgary Stampede: You are about to wrap up your year as Indian Princess– how do you feel?

Vanessa Stiffarm: It’s kind of bittersweet- I’m excited but I’m also sad. It’s been an amazing year – it’s sad knowing that it’s almost over. But I’m excited to see how many girls try out this year and how the program grows for next year.

Vanessa parade day

CS: Can you sum up the year with three words (or phrases)?
VS: Exciting, full of surprises, memorable

CS: If you could name three greatest moments of your year – what would they be?
VS: 1. When I was selected as 20 compelling Calgarians to watch for 2016 by the Calgary Herald.

2. My first international trip to Australia. When I got to Australia, it felt more real. I was grateful to dance in the Sydney Opera House and share my culture with everyone there for travel show. I loved learning how different Australians are to Canadians.

Vanessa Dancing

3. When parade finally started. I was really excited – I’d been waiting for nine months for that moment! I was overwhelmed with happiness that it was finally here.

CS: How was your Stampede week?
VS: Absolutely amazing. Especially being a part of and experiencing the new home for Indian village in ENMAX Park and seeing guests come in and experience it. I loved how much space there was. So many guests would come up to me and ask how I got the role and what I did – it was amazing to realize that people really do travel from all over the world to come to the Calgary Stampede!

CS: What was the most unexpected thing about being IP?
VS: The international trips that was I so fortunate to go on. And meeting people like the Prime Minister and Paul Brandt.

CS: What have you learned about yourself this year?
VS: That when I speak, there are people listening to me. I want to educate people about my culture- and people were really engaged.

CS: Have you changed? If so, how?
VS: I’m more confident than I used to be. I’m more outgoing. I was very shy before I did this. Being Indian Princess opened my eyes to just saying “Hi” to somebody and how to get to know other people.

Vanessa _3

CS: How do you see yourself bringing this experience forward into your life?
VS: Being Indian Princess opened my eyes to the fact that people are really there to help me accomplish my goals – I used to feel like I had to do everything on my own – it’s nice to know there are people standing by side pushing me to try harder and go further.

CS: Who should apply to be IP?
VS: Anyone that is eligible to apply – it’s an amazing opportunity that opens doors to many things. Whatever you want to go into in your life—there are tons of opportunities to see all kinds of things in action and all the hardworking people behind it.

CS: How should applicants prepare for the contest?
VS: I would say: Go for it! Don’t be shy. Don’t think you can’t do it. Give it your all. It can benefit you. That’s what I did. I stayed positive, I worked as hard as I could during competition. Any girl that puts their mind to it, can do it.