Rider Nation – Saskatchewan’s True Love and Identity

Saskatchewan fieldsWritten by June De La Paz – guest blogger

Whenever anyone finds out that I grew up in Saskatchewan, they inevitably ask if I lived on a farm. They imagine that I drove a combine in overalls with a wheat straw dangling from my lips. That, or if I know their cousin/uncle/friend, so-and-so because Saskatchewan is a tiny, small, flat place where everyone knows everyone.

Truth be told, I had a pretty idyllic upbringing. I grew up in an area where many people didn’t lock their doors during the day. I rode my bike everywhere, including downtown and to the river. I took the bus or walked to school from the age of 9. During the hot, sweltering summers, my parents didn’t even look for me until sometime around dinner, and without mountains, the sun seemed to take forever to set. Then, there were the winters. The bright morning sun belied how bitterly cold it was outside. It didn’t matter how many sweaters or thermal underwear you had on, the cold bore its way through all of those layers to remind you how tough those Saskatchewan winters truly were.

Living in Saskatchewan was a right of passage. The spikes in the weather alone were enough to challenge the hardiest souls and still are. We didn’t have the tropical or Chinook winds to warm us. We didn’t have the bounty of the ocean or border large US cities or have mega malls to spend our money.

What we do have is the most loyal, butt-kickingest and craziest fans you will ever meet. And the rowdiest in Canada (ranked by MSN Sports). Fans wear watermelons. On. Their. Heads.

Roughrider Fans1Even though the Roughriders play in the smallest market in the CFL and are the second smallest major league in North America, they have led in away games attendance every year in the last 10 years. During away games in Alberta, Rider Nation makes up about ½ of the fans in attendance. Because it doesn’t matter where you live – once you have rider pride, it is for life.

Roughrider merchandise sales rank third in Canada for all major league sports, which includes hockey. What makes this more surprising is that the team has only won 3 Grey Cups in the last 100 years. Belonging to Rider Nation isn’t just about winning. Rider pride is about being tough, giving it your all and supporting your team through the good and the bad. Whether we win or lose, or move to another city, once a Rider fan, always a Rider fan.

You’ll never be able to fully understand what surviving a Saskatchewan summer or winter is like unless you experience it. This is an unspoken bond that unites us. Like many who left in search of greener pastures during an economic downturn, I no longer live in Saskatchewan. However, when I do meet someone from Saskatchewan, there is an immediate ease between us – a mutual understanding and downright respect, because it is earned. That is Rider pride and that is the heart of Rider nation.

RiderPride (3)June De La Paz is a freelance Marketer, specializing in the technology sector with the breadth of her experience in start-ups. She is currently working on launching her own line of natural skin care products for kids and adults. She grew up in Saskatchewan where her parents still reside.  She currently lives with her husband (who grew up in SK too), three extraordinary daughters in beautiful BC, and they all stay at Sandmans whenever they travel around Canada. They all belong to Rider Nation and have Rider Pride.

Toronto Gears Up for the 100th Grey Cup!

It’s that time of year again. Nope, we’re not talking about Christmas (though for some people it’s just as exciting) – we are talking about the Grey Cup!

This year’s event will be held in Toronto and will feature the best Canadian football teams from the east and west battling it out in Rogers stadium. Home to the oldest team in history (139 years to be exact!), the Toronto Argonauts, this championship battle is guaranteed to be one of the best ever – and the city of Toronto is sparing no expense when it comes to the celebrations.

For ten days and eleven nights, there will be over 50 events including: a football film festival, a family fun zone, traditional team parties, galas, player awards, and non-stop live performances.

Among the performers expected are Faber Drive, Said the Whale, Fefe Dobson, Our Lady Peace, Spirit of the West among many others.Famous acts will be packing the OLG Stage at The TELUS Street Festival located on Front Street, from Simcoe St, to John St and north to Wellington.

In addition to live music, people who attend the Street Festival can also experience Canada’s largest Ribfest (featuring some of the best rib recipes in North America) in addition to an amazing outdoor beer garden and tailgate party.

 If you are looking for a little fun with the Family, you can also attend the Nissan Family Zone at Yonge-Dundas Square which will have non-stop slew of kid-friendly events for the entire duration of the 10 day, city-wide celebration.

Parents and children can enjoy educational programming, a mini football field with clinics led by CIS players, special performances on the Petro Canada Stage, games, giveaways for the kids, meet and greets with dancers and cheerleaders, great food and so much more.

Grey Cup Free Performance Schedule:


Friday, November 23 Sirius XM Winner – ERA 9 4:30pm
Classified 5:30pm
Rikers 6:45pm
Platinum Blonde 7:30pm
Bleeker Ridge 9:00pm
Faber Drive 10:15pm
Saturday, November 24 Bender 1:30pm
Sirius XM Winner – ERA 9 2:30pm
Carpet Frogs 3:30pm
Kira Isabella 5:00pm
Victoria Duffield 6:00pm
Fefe Dobson 7:00pm
Said The Whale 8:00pm
Zeus 9:00pm
Our Lady Peace 10:15pm
Sunday, November 25 Sirius XM Winner – ERA 9 12:30pm
Bombolessé 1:30pm
The Mahones 2:30pm
Spirit Of the West 3:30pm


Ticket Events:

*November 21 – Scotiabank 100th Grey Cup Gala

**November 22 – Gibson’s Finest Player Awards

November 22 – TELUS Players Party

November 23 – 24 – Molson Canadian House Concert Series

November 23 – 48th Vanier Cup

November 25 – The Official Pre-Game Party

With the final two teams hailing from Toronto and Calgary, there are sure to be quite a few fans flying in from all parts of the country. So if you are looking for accommodations close to the airport, our Sandman Signature Hotel & Suites is just minutes away. For a list of packages, hot deals and room rates, click here: http://www.sandmansignature.ca/specials-rewards/hot-deals/