The recipient of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport, Vancouver Coastal Region. Photo by PHOTO SUBMITTEDMount Currie’s Quinn Sam-Finlay was busy preparing for one of the most important weeks of his athletic career when he got a phone call with some well-timed good news.
The 15-year old Pemberton Secondary student and member of Lil’wat Nation was packing for a trip to a college soccer scouting camp in California when he found out he was named as one of the eight Vancouver Coastal region recipients of this year’s Premier’s Award for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport. He earned the award for his achievements in both soccer and basketball.
“My grandma was the one who put all of the information in. I was really (surprised) and I was honoured to get the award,” he said. “It was amazing. My heart was warmed a lot. It’s like all of the hard work I’ve put in has paid off.”
The Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council (I·SPARC), along with the Province of British Columbia, launched the regional nomination process this past August. They received 141 nominations from across British Columbia for indigenous athletes under 25 years of age who are competing in sport and are committed to a healthy, active lifestyle.
“Recipients were selected based on their achievements in performance sport, commitment to pursuing a higher education, demonstrable leadership qualities, volunteerism, and connection to culture,” I·SPARC explained in a release.
Sam-Finlay accepted the prestigious award during a ceremony at the Musqueam Community Centre in Vancouver, held on Nov. 14.
The award caps off a winning year for Sam-Finlay, who also earned a gold medal representing Team BC for basketball at the North American Indigenous Games, held in Toronto in July.
Currently, he manages a busy schedule balancing the two sports he’s most passionate about. He practices with the Pemberton Secondary School basketball team Mondays and Wednesday evenings, in between driving down to the city for soccer practice with his metro club team on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“I am very proud of Quinn. He’s a great player who loves those games and very talented all-around athlete,” said Alphonse Wallace, recreation coordinator with Lil’wat Nation, in a release. “He’s amazing.”
And as for the scouting camp? “It went really well,” Sam-Finlay said. “I’m really excited. I want to play college soccer in the United States, and I want to go pro really bad, so yeah, (receiving the award helps). I was talking to my parents about it and they were saying that it’s nice (for coaches) to see the awards I get and what I do for my community.”
This year’s Vancouver Coastal recipients also include Squamish Nation’s Alexis Mellish, Sekawnee Baker and Kathleen Natrall, as well as siblings Malia Terry, for lacrosse, and Jaiden Terry, for lacrosse and hockey, from St’at’imc and Nisga’a. Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Gordon George and Musqueam Indian Band’s Ashley Thorne rounded out the list of recipients.
The award also makes these athletes eligible for the provincial awards, set to be announced next February. The six male athletes and six female athletes selected will be invited to a special Aboriginal Youth Sport Leadership Forum, set to take place in March, as well.
“It’s an honour to recognize these amazing young athletes in the Vancouver Coastal region through the Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in a release. “These awards celebrate these athletes’ accomplishments in their sport and also their commitment to embracing and celebrating their community and culture.”