Laine Keyes will be debuting on television this fall, thanks to a herd of bison.
Keyes owns the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch with his business partner Rudi Schiebel.
They were approached by filmmakers who were creating a new documentary series called Nations at War that’s airing this fall on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
The 13-episode series shows Canada shaped by First Nations wars.
It “shows how for over eight centuries the First Nations fought each other and waves of Europeans over land, resources, power and survival,” states an email from the documentary’s public relations staff.
“Three episodes in the show were filmed in Chase, and feature resident Laine Keyes, who plays the role of a Métis warrior in the series.”
Keyes says filming on the bison ranch took place for two days about a year-and-a-half ago.
“It was pretty much raw shooting, they were using drones and cameras. They were filming the bison as they were on the ranch.”
He says no props were involved, except for some fake guns, one of which he held as he was being filmed on horseback.
“Long-barrelled guns, those things are heavy to hold onto… They had us do some riding on horses, running through the fields, holding rifles.”
The shots taken of Keyes riding weren’t taken near the bison, he says, because they can be dangerous if you’re not careful.
“They would have been in the background. You have to make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and not put yourself in a bad spot as they’re still a wild animal…They’re great when you don’t bug them, when you let them in the field to do their own thing.”
He was told he wouldn’t be in the premiere, but he isn’t sure which episodes he will be in.
Bison were heavily involved in First Nations history – history which relates to his family’s background.
He said his dad’s side of the family is from south of the border – Blackfoot, Cree, Navajo, and he was born in Chase and has been raised by his mom in Canada.
Interest in bison is growing, he says.
The ranch, which has been in the family for several generations, sells bison meat direct to the consumer.
“We wanted to do something different (than cattle),” he says, so they went touring and saw a bison herd.
“Right away we knew this was something we wanted to get into. The animals were really majestic.”
He said they’re focused on Vancouver at the moment, starting a food box business that gets delivered to the consumer’s home. Bison meat is popular, he says, because it’s high in omegas, vitamins and is leaner than chicken.
“The demand is quite huge – supply is isn’t up to it.”
They’ve also been working with chefs in Vancouver, starting to incorporate tourism in the business. Chefs have come up and cooked dinners at the ranch for the public.
The morning of the interview, someone called about filming a commercial. They were hoping Keyes could bring the bison to Vancouver, he says with a smile in his voice.
The premiere for Nations at War ran Sept. 6 on APTN W, E and HD and will be aired Sept. 12 on APTN N.