Benny William

One of the last standing Elder Cowboys

Age 75, Benny is a former Chief and is the most active and traditional Cowboy Elder within the Xeni Gwet’in.  He’s held in high esteem by his community, as ancient native life is steeped deep in his DNA.  He’s a gentlemen in his ways with a quick whit, and stares you in the eye when he speaks.  Benny can still be found on his ranch single handedly breaking wild Qayus horses, and he finds great satisfaction in catching the nastiest, most difficult and illusive in the Qayus herds.  Benny is quoted as saying:  “Qayus, if you can catch and break one, you’ll have the strongest, tuffest, more sure footed horse out there.”    

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Steve Quilt & Meranda Lee Ekman


Steve Quilt

Steve Quilt, 34, grew up around horses so it’s his lifestyle and there isn’t much he can’t do with or on a horse. He not only trains them but he’s an up-and-coming farrier as well. Around the corrals, he’s known as the guy that will “get on” for the sake of giving the wild horse it’s first test. Something that most guys won’t raise their hands for. Well known and respected in Nemiah Valley, Steve is one of the leading personalities in the famed Mountain (suicide) race that runs in rodeos every year, and is a competitive force to be reckoned with. You’ll find Steve mostly on one of his trusted self-trained ponies with his partner Meranda, making their way up the high ground or simply putting on the hours in the saddle for the betterment of the horse.

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Meranda Lee Ekman

Meranda Lee Ekman, 30, was literally born on a horse. She grew up around horses most of her life and there’s really no other place she prefers to be. She’s worked as a wrangler and cook in the area with Yohetta Lake Wilderness on trail rides and packed horses and equipment for big game guiding season. She loves being out with the horses and exploring new places on horseback as she gets access to and sees so much more from a horse. Meranda can often be found training her own horses under the watchful eye of her partner Steve, as they work closely together in the corrals. She successfully ran her number one steed “Jessie James” in the famed 2019 Williams Lake Stampede Mountain (Suicide) Race!

Keith Koepke

Photographer and film creator

Keith is likely the most gentleman and polite individual you will ever meet and a local favorite. He’s intelligent and well versed on the lands as well as with a camera in his hands. An incredible outdoorsman, when he’s not contract working with a camera or producing his own material, he can be found with his two dogs on the trails and the highest mountain peaks around Nemiah Valley, taking in the view and documenting it to share with the world.

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Mike Hawkridge

Cowboy – Big Game Guide – Rancher

Cowboy/big game guide/rancher and age (no one really knows for sure). Mike grew up in a remote area of central BC and still finds comfort in things many consider wild. Horses and wilderness were the main influencers. It’s no surprise that once he finished school, Mike saddled up and headed for the mountains. By the mid 90s, with an official government issued guides license, he was assisting clients from around the world. Today, he will be found on the back of a horse, checking cattle, or setting out on another big game hunting adventure in his guide territory where he is an owner/operator of AlphaDog Outdoors in British Columbia, Canada.

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Emery Phillips

Old School Cowboy

Age 59, Native Cowboy runs deep in his blood.  Considered a rough neck, Emery embraces all that is culturally significant and is a full on old school Cowboy.  Born to a Native Mother and White Cowboy Father, Emery grew up fighting for his right to be where he is, and used the Broncs and Bulls to make sense of things.  In the saddle since he was 6, Emery proved himself in the rodeo circuit, as a Cowboy that wouldn’t back down from any animal and earned the title champion.  He has the ability to read a horses mind, and knows what to do before it needs done.  A bushman to the core, he’s at home in the saddle on the high mountains amongst predators and prey.