Carriere recognized as honourary chairperson at Tux and Toques

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Gerald McKenzie and honourary chairperson Franklin Carriere did animal calls during Carriere's speech at the Tux and Toques Gala at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation Hall on Saturday evening.

After a year away because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prince Albert Winter Festival’s Tux and Toques Gala returned on Saturday night at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation Hall.

The event recognized 2022 honourary chairperson Franklin Carriere. Carriere was pleased to be recognized by the Prince Albert Winter Festival, which has been part of his life for over 50 years as one of the legends of the King Trapper event.

“It means a lot at my age after competing for so many years,” Carriere said. “I competed here over 50 years and to be honoured at this late stage of my life, I thank the Winter Festival committee and all of the (current) workers, and the past workers. We have worked with a lot of people.”

Gala event chair Bev Erickson said they’ve asked residents to bring suggestions for an honourary chair for all of the gala’s five years, and Carriere has been on the list every year.

“Last year we didn’t do it of course, but two years before that we called him and he couldn’t come,” she explained. “He wasn’t feeling good so he didn’t want to come. This year we were just lucky that he was feeling better and said yes.”

“He was one of the first ones that we had thought of,” Erickson added. “The timing just was not going to work out, so we are very happy that finally we got him here.”

Trapping came naturally to Carriere. He learned quickly and eagerly from his father and uncles.

“They were all trappers,” he remembered. “When I was 14 years old my Dad was sick and somebody had to go and help him trap, and I volunteered.”

Carriere, who is 76-years-old, became involved in dog racing events at the Winter Festival in 1966. In 1970 he turned to the King Trapper event which he competed in from 1970 to 2015 winning at least 10 titles in that time.

“Ever since I have been competing,” he said.

Carriere went to school, but trapping was his calling.

“I did get my college degree, university degree in the bush that’s how I got to be Natural King Trapper,” he said.

Carriere and his wife, daughter and granddaughter all attended the event,

“It is very special especially (for) my granddaughter,” he said. “(She) goes to school in New Brunswick and she delayed it one week. She wanted to be here.”

During the recognition ceremony there was a 17 minute video tribute and history of the Winter Festival. Orville Erickson one of the founders of the Winter Festival became fast friends with Carriere.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Hoop dancer Lawrence Roy Jr. performed to end the evening at the Tux and Toques Gala on Saturday evening at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation Hall.

“He’s the first guy that sold me life insurance and that’s how I got to be good friends with him,” Carriere said.

“When he died we lost a very good friend. I was very sorry when I heard that.”

He is still good friends with the Erickson family, who are still involved in the Winter Festival to this day.

“We missed a little bit there, quite a few years because they were all over the place too, but I kept coming back,” Carriere said. “We wanted to make sure that these PA King Trapper and Queen Trapper events continue and I want to come back at the end of February for the PA Winter Festival and help out.”

During the presentation and speech Carriere and fellow trapper Gerald McKenzie regaled the crowd with stories and animal calls while wearing classic King Trapper regalia.

Carriere retired from both his regular job and King Trapper competitions. He continues to train trappers in communities across the north for Northland College.

“We almost lost the core industry,” he explained. “One company, the North American company, quit buying fur, but the fur harvesters are still buying. They are not making a lot of money, but they are still continuing the tradition … and if we don’t teach our kids to continue the tradition what is going to happen here? If something happens in the world then we have to depend on the bush.

“We have to teach our kids. I teach my kids how to survive in the bush and I also teach them to make sure that they don’t waste anything. That’s a big thing.”

During the event Sheryl Kimbley spoke to honour 2021 honourary chairpersons Lawrence Joseph, who was in attendance, and Don Mitchell who was unable to attend due to health matters. Kimbley credited both men for being exemplary role models to younger generations, while still poking fun at each other on stage.

The Gala featured a silent auction, Diamond Dash, supper by the staff of Shenanigans and a performance by hoop dancer and storyteller Lawrence Roy Jr.

Roy also trained five people from the crowd in the at of hoop dancing.

Overall, Erickson was pleased with how the event turned out after a year away.

“I think it turned out very well,” she said. “We followed all Sask Health regulations, all the government protocols and we still got a really nice crowd. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

“It was really good,” she added. “We just can’t do any of this kind of stuff without the community.

“Everyone totally came out and supported it. Prince Albert is small but they have got a great community base.”

The Prince Albert Winter Festival runs from February 10 to 27.