Like something off of prime-time television, four First Nation communities in southern Saskatchewan completed a series of intense challenges on Sunday with thousands of dollars on the line.
Ochapowace Nation, Kahkewistahaw First Nation, Cowessess First Nation and Sakimay First Nation participated in the 4-nation Amazing Race.
It included a number of tasks and challenges including biking on a dirt road for 10 km, canoeing 15 km, biking 20 km, hiking up Ochapowace Ski Hill and horseback riding for 12 km.
The race finished with the last teammate filleting and cooking a fish over a fire they had to start themselves, without matches.
The teams were awarded their prizes at a powwow at Ochapowace.
"I feel that we honoured our ancestors strengths," said Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation.
"We were always competitive. We were always canoe people, horse people, team players and so today I feel that spirit has been awakened again."
Winning the race
Local competitor Chance Bear was part of the winning team from Ochapawace First Nation.
The team started off with NHL hockey player Ethan Bear on a bike, which it turns out had a flat tire. Although he switched out his bike half way through, the team was in last place.
After a couple more events, they were able to battle their way into first.
"I guess we just had a little bit more drive. Those little things didn't make us give up," Chance Bear said.
"We kept on yelling at each other, cheering each other on and giving courage to each other. That's what kept us going throughout the race."
Chance Bear said he wanted to compete in the race along with the rest of his family. Besides just family pride, the winning team was also awarded $3,000.
"I wanted to win and I look forward to next year and the year after it. Hopefully we can continue having the same team and striving for that win again," he said.
Goals of the challenge
Delorme, who competed on an opposing team, said success in the race was both strategic planning "and a bit of luck."
Personally, he completed both the canoeing and the hiking legs of the race. While they were both physically challenging, he said canoeing was tougher mentally.
"With it being Crooked Lake, you come around the corner and you can't even see the finish line, there's another corner there. Mentally, it just started getting to you after a while," he said.
While canoeing, Delorme said he came up under a bridge by Cowessess Gas and Grocery and saw dozens of local spectators, elders and people from outside of the community watching with excitement.
"They were just cheering on every team that came up. That is what this race is all about. It's about collaboration," Delorme said.
"There is a competitive side to it but at the same time…it doesn't matter if you win or lose.
"You finished the race and that helps your self esteem."
One teammate from each team had to be the opposite gender and one had to be from one of the four reserves.
The four Chiefs from each of the First Nations meet quarterly and talk about important topics in their communities. It was from one of those meetings that the idea for the race was sparked, Delorme said.
Of course, it was based on the TV show, but it was created with more of a purpose.
"Even though we all have our own jurisdiction, our own values, it's stuff like this that can bring us together and really showcase the unity that we have with one another," he said.
"This is going to go on for years to come and I think within four or five years this is going to be the race to go to in Saskatchewan."