Alberta bison ranchers win top Manitoba award

Fort McMurray bison ranchers Brad and Carmen Ramstead are the winners of a top award given out by the Manitoba Bison Association.

The association, which has several out-of-province members from Alberta, Ontario, and even the U.S., gives the Bill Lenton Memorial Award to members who have “shown dedication and commitment as well as given of their time to promote the bison industry and the MBA.”

“We were pretty humbled,” said Carmen Ramstead. “We’ve been through a lot in the last two years… with the fire here and everything. The Manitoba family has always been special to our hearts because we’ve grown to become a big family and they’ve always been there to support and (have) us support them. We weren’t expecting it at all, so when we found out, it was very humbling to know that your peers think that much of you.”

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Brad Ramstead is the longtime manager of the Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch, a joint project between Syncrude Canada and the Fort McKay First Nation that has 300 head of wood bison on over 450 hec­tares of reclaimed grassland, formerly the site of Syncrude mining operations.

The pair was drawn to Manitoba after meeting fellow industry members from the province, eventually buying land and joining the Manitoba producers’ group. The couple has consistently turned out for the association’s annual Great Spirit Bison Show and Sale, despite the distance, and Carmen Ramstead has helped with its annual conference for the last decade, said association president Nolan Miller.

“Really, we felt that they’ve gone quite a bit out of their way to keep supporting our province’s event,” he said.

The award honours the late Bill Lenton, who ran one of the first commercial bison herds in Manitoba and later Saskatchewan.

“To follow in the steps of Bill Lenton, he was an amazing man who had a passion for bison and the industry and did a lot for the industry, so for us to be recognized under that umbrella is pretty amazing,” Ramstead said.

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