A pair of Nuu-chah-nulth athletes are among those that received provincial athletic sports awards.
A dozen recipients were honored with 2016 Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport at a ceremony in Kelowna on March 21.
Winners included wrestler Mayben Crabbe, who is a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, and rugby player Shalaya Valenzuela, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation.
This marked the second year that the awards were presented. They were created by the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I-SPARC) in conjunction with officials from the British Columbia government.The accolades are intended to highlight the achievements of Aboriginal athletes in the province.
Those who are under 25 are eligible for the awards. Winners were not only selected for their athletic feats, but also for demonstrating leadership qualities and a commitment to higher education.
This year’s Premier’s Awards were presented during the opening ceremonies of the Gathering Our Voices Youth Conference.
A total of 47 regional recipients were vying for the Premier’s Awards at the provincial level. The 12 B.C. winners consisted of six females and six males.
Rick Brant, I-SPARC’s executive director, said the awards are not only meant to honour deserving Aboriginal athletes.
“Their performance on the field of play isn’t the only reason for us to celebrate,” he said. “The way they have given back to their communities, their commitment to education, and demonstrated leadership are an inspiration to us all.”
Peter Fassbender, B.C.’s Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, believes it’s valuable to honour young Aboriginal athletic achievers.
“Sport has opened doors for these youth, connecting them to their communities, promoting healthy lifestyles and providing a source of fun,” he said.
Crabbe, a 17-year-old who is in her final year of studies at Ucluelet Secondary School, had a rather successful 2016.
Her accomplishments included winning a gold medal at the Canadian juvenile wrestling championships last April in Calgary.
She also captured the gold medal at the Western Canada Age Class Provincials. Crabbe also scooped up a half dozen awards from her school for her efforts during her Grade 11 year.
Besides being named as the senior female athlete of the year at her school, she was also chosen as the top athlete of the year.
Crabbe also earned awards for art, woodwork and citizenship. And she was presented with another award for high academic performance as well as being a great citizen and participation in school activities.
Crabbe also gives back to her community. She volunteers as a wrestling coach at local elementary schools.
Like Crabbe, Valenzuela, who lives in Abbotsford, is also 17. And she’s a member of the Abbotsford Rugby Club.
Valenzuela has captured several gold medals at provincial championships, including at the B.C. Summer Games.
Her rugby exploits have included participating in tournaments in Las Vegas, Toronto and Ottawa.
One of her goals is to crack the Canadian girls’ under-18 squad.