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Justin Leifso

In this paper, I examine the place of the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan’s political history. Drawing on Canadian political economy and affect theory, I argue that political despair has been a defining feature of the Saskatchewan experience, an affective dimension of the province’s place in the Canadian political economy. During difficult times, the historically mediocre Roughriders have served as a convenient metaphor—the scrappy underdog. In more recent years, however, a more prosperous Saskatchewan and more successful Roughriders team has led to the emergence of the “Rider Nation,” a political identity based on a rejection of this despair. This identity, I argue, has been successfully captured by Premier Brad Wall and his conservative Saskatchewan Party, who have worked to locate themselves as the leaders of the Rider Nation and harbingers of “better times.” Ultimately, however, I argue that the Rider Nation is an exclusionary identity, centred solely on the experience of white settler Saskatchewanians while erasing those experiences of Indigenous peoples.