Cloverdale’s Taya Suttill, a young Métis athlete, was one of eight in the Fraser region to win a 2018 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport.
The 15-year-old was presented with the honour at a formal ceremony at the Mamele’awt Community Aboriginal Centre in Abbotsford on Nov. 18.
The Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council (I-SPARC) organizes the award in collaboration with the provincial government. I-SPARC is a consortium of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, the First Nations Health Authority and Métis Nation BC. The recipients of the award are Indigenous athletes, under 25 years of age, who participate in sport and lead healthy, active lifestyles.
Taya was awarded for her outstanding work in basketball, soccer and track and field.
The Grade 11 Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student took some time out of her busy schedule to meet with the Reporter last week, dropping by after basketball practice. At this time of year, Taya has basketball practice, soccer practice, or both, every day of the week. On top of that, she’s just finished cross-country season, and will be beginning track and field soon.
Taya said she’s always had a passion for sport, and that it’s difficult for her to pick a favourite — for her, it’s all about the community.
“I think I love the environment, and playing with teammates,” she said. “Running around and getting exercise is pretty good as well.”
In the last year, she has represented Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary at basketball and track and field provincials, and received most valuable player and athlete of the year awards from her high school. Another recent highlight of her athletic career was in 2017, when she played on the U16 Team B.C. soccer team at the North American Indigenous Games, scoring the opening goal in their gold medal-winning game.
At the Abbotsford award ceremony, she was “very nervous, but also very excited.” She took the opportunity to thank her parents, coaches, and I-SPARC “for providing the award and all of the opportunities they provide to youth in sport.”
I-SPARC introduced her to Team B.C. in the North American Indigenous Games, and to a coaching course and opportunity, which she used to teach Surrey youth sport fundamentals and soccer skills. She also takes part in regional sports camps and activities that I-SPARC organizes.
Taya doesn’t think she’ll pursue a professional career in sports, but that doesn’t mean sports won’t continue to be a part of her life.
“I think I’m going to focus more on [post-secondary] school,” she said. “So these last couple years, I really want to just go out there, exercise, make friends, and learn skills that I can bring from sport into my life. And hopefully I will find time to involve sport in my life, maybe through recreational teams.”
Taya, an honour roll student, has plans to pursue a post-secondary degree in the sciences.
Taya and her fellow regional recipients of the award are eligible to win a provincial premier award. All told, 47 young athletes were honoured throughout I-SPARC’s six regions. Twelve of those athletes will be selected for a provincial award in January, and will be presented at Gathering our Voices: Indigenous Youth Leadership Forum in Port Alberni March 19-22, 2019.