The 2017 Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport were presented to eight outstanding Aboriginal athletes from British Columbia’s Vancouver Island Region during a formal celebration held today at the Tsawout Community Center in Saanichton, B.C. Vancouver Island is the fifth of six regions to honour Aboriginal athletes through this unique province-wide awards program.

I·SPARC Vancouver Island Regional Co-Lead Wally Samuel said “This unique awards program is a good partnership, and a great way to show how well our young people have done. We are pleased to honour their success in sport, in school, and in their communities.”

The Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council (I·SPARC), in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia, launched the Regional nomination process in August 2017, receiving 141 nominations from across the province for Aboriginal athletes under 25 years of age who are competing in performance sport and committed to living healthy, active lifestyles.

“Congratulations to the Vancouver Island recipients of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “The Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport celebrate the achievements of young Aboriginal athletes on the field and in their communities. On behalf of the BC government, it is an honour to recognize your accomplishments.”

A total of 48 recipients have been chosen within I·SPARC’s six regions – Northeast, Northwest, Interior, Fraser, Vancouver Coastal and Vancouver Island. Recipients were selected based on their achievements in performance sport, commitment to pursuing a higher education, demonstrable leadership qualities, volunteerism, and connection to culture.

“Today’s recipients are the mentors, heroes and leaders of the next generation of Aboriginal athletes for the Vancouver Island region,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary of Sport and Multiculturalism.  It is through their hard work, dedication and commitment that they will continue to inspire youth to follow their athletic dreams and embrace their community and culture. Congratulations!”

The recipients of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport – Vancouver Island Region are:

· Brittany Harry, 19, Soccer, Sliammon First Nation
· Caleb Sam, 15, Soccer and Rugby, Songhees First Nation
· Juniper John, 15, Basketball and Rifle Shooting, Ahousaht
· Fa’atuatua Va’a, 23, Rugby, Tsartlip First Nation
· Mariah Thomas, 17, Soccer and Basketball, Cowichan Tribes
· Graham Stewart, 18, Rowing, Métis Nation of Greater Victoria
· Sophie Scobie, 17, Lacrosse, Métis Nation BC
· Mark Anthony Roberts, 17, Rifle Shooting, Weiwaikum

These recipients automatically serve as nominees for the Provincial Awards. A total of 12 Provincial Recipients (six male and six female) will be selected in February 2018.  Provincial recipients will receive an invitation to attend a special Aboriginal Youth Sport Leadership Forum, held at the Gathering our Voices Indigenous Youth Leadership Training in Richmond from March 20-23, 2018.

Throughout the month of November, the remaining regions will host formal celebrations to honour their 2017 Premier’s Awards recipients.