Quesnel’s Grace Currie is the second member of her family to be honoured with the Regional Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports.
Her brother Garnet, who is a competitive swimmer, won the regional award twice and was even honoured with a provincial award too.
Grace, a strong swimmer in her own right, is one of the top softball players in the region.
Playing for the U-16 Quesnel Terrors, she won MVP awards at every tournament she played in this year and won an overall season MVP on her team, which placed first at a tournament in Vernon and second in the silver pool at a provincial tournament held in Quesnel. Grace was also part of an exclusive group of players on the Canada Futures team, which recently toured the Southeastern United States.
She joined six athletes from across the Northeast Region for a ceremony at the Uda Dune Baiyoh House of Ancestors Conference Centre in Prince George on Monday (Oct. 28) to accept the honour.
“To be a part of the ceremony was very special” Grace, who has Métis heritage, says. “They have Elders and all their important people supporting you, so that was cool.”
The young athlete was marched into the award presentation by drummers and welcomed by the community Elders before eating dinner and listening to some speeches on the importance of athletics to the Indigenous community.
“Then they called up the athletes one at a time and read our bio,” says Grace says. “You just sit there and they talk about all these amazing things that you’ve done. Then you get up, walk across the stage, shake all the Elders’ hands and you receive a medal, a lanyard and a First Nations pin.”
She was inspired by her fellow award winners, mentioning one in particular.
“There was one young kid there and he was deaf and had hearing aids, and he had the cutest little story of how he overcame his problems,” she says.
Many opportunities will open up for the softball star, thanks to the award.
“One of the coaches who helps pick athletes for the National Aboriginal Games [which will be held in Halifax this year] was there, and I was able to talk with him,” she says. “I’m hoping this award will help me get into that and help me be considered for the [University of British Columbia Okanagan] softball team too.”
The Northeast is the second of the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council’s (I·SPARC) six regions to honour Indigenous athletes through their province-wide awards program.
I·SPARC, in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia, launched the regional nomination process in August 2019, receiving close to 130 nominations from across the province for Indigenous athletes under 25 years of age who are competing in performance sport and committed to living healthy, active lifestyles.
A total of 36 recipients were chosen within I·SPARC’s six regions: Fraser, Interior, Northeast, Northwest, Vancouver Coastal, and Vancouver Island. These Regional recipients automatically serve as nominees for the Provincial Awards selected in early 2020. Ten Provincial recipients will be awarded at the Gathering Our Voices Opening Ceremony in Kamloops on March 16, 2020, and go on display at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.