Indigenous athletes from Kelowna, Penticton and Oliver have been honoured on a province-wide scale for their achievements in 2022.
Indigo Berry, Brooke Hall-Eckes, Kalezafar Lawrence, Kanani Coon and Kayla Burns are among the finalists for the annual Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport.
“Sport has the power to change lives, to create strong community connections and to inspire generations to care for each other,” said Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “This is especially important in the context of reconciliation, and we are pleased to recognize these young athletes as leaders. They inspire us all to engage and persevere in sport and beyond. Congratulations to the finalists!”
Berry, a karate athlete representing Nłeʔkepmxc, is one of two finalists from Kelowna, with the other one being Coon, a basketball player based out of the Enoch Cree Nation.
Hall-Eckes, a softball athlete representing the Tsartlip and Métis, as well as Lawrence, a lacrosse player from Penelakut Tribe, are the lone Penticton recipients.
Burns, a volleyball player representing the Métis, is from Oliver.
The aforementioned athletes will serve as B.C. Interior nominees for the awards. Winners will be announced later this year.
Kaiden Thorpe, a soccer player from Kimberley representing the Rocky Mountain Métis Society, rounded out the Interior-based nominees.
According to the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I•SPARC), applications for the awards were open to Indigenous youth athletes 25 years and younger who demonstrate “a commitment to their education, culture, and promoting healthy and active lifestyles.”
A video released this week by the council highlights all the recent achievements of the local athletes.
“Congratulations on your achievements,” said Corinne McKay, I•SPARC President and Chairperson. “We are so proud to celebrate the regional recipients and share their incredible stories of athletic achievements and their dedication to culture, education, leadership, and community. We look forward to seeing you continue to grow as great athletes and people.”