Alberta buffalo inspires unique display at today’s Stampede Parade
theresa tayler/metro calgary
It’s not everyday a giant, white buffalo is found lurking through the streets of downtown Calgary.
But, today’s an exception.
Xstine Cook and her band of puppet-makers, drama students, and friends will be at the helm of a float in this morning’s Stampede Parade depicting one of Alberta’s most majestic animals.
“The white buffalo symbolizes peace, balance and unity — not only in humans but in the animal and plant world, in everything,” Cook told Metro yesterday from her workshop in Inglewood.
Cook and her group of young, aboriginal drama students (Young Spirit Voices) started the project in March, and were still putting the final touches on the colossal creature yesterday afternoon.
The curator of the Calgary Animated Objects Society, Cook said she first had a white buffalo appear in her imagination in the late 1990s. The artist, performer and puppet-maker, didn’t quite know what to make of the vision until this year — when she realized it was the perfect symbol to create a Stampede float around.
“They’re an amazing animal, you don’t have to bring these animals hay or look after them like cattle — really, it amazes me the settlers chose to raise cows instead,” says Cook, laughing.
Upon the guidance of those in Calgary’s native community, Cook decided to build the buffalo via an unusual route — she took the pieces to Drumheller and asked the inmates at the local jail to lend a hand.
Members of the Drumheller Institution’s Native Brotherhood, and the prison’s vocational program were instrumental in helping craft and build the white buffalo float.
“The buffalo represents respect, for earth and one another. There’s something that resonates there,” says Cook. “Participating in this may have let some of them embrace their spirituality, which is very important.”
Four months later the white buffalo returned home to Calgary, where members of Young Spirit Voices helped add the final touches.