A regional winner for Vancouver Island of the 2020 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport earlier this year, Duncan’s Ellashani George was named a provincial winner as well during a special event held over Zoom last month.
An outstanding athlete in both war canoe and soccer, George was one of 10 recipients of the provincial honour presented by the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council on Oct. 21.
“The provincial Premier’s Award means so much to me,” she said. “It proves that my hard work has paid off. This past summer I was paddling and placed in some races, therefore my current goal is to train twice as harder than before in order to further my performance in sports and feel great for the upcoming season.”
Six athletes were selected from each of five regions across the province for a total of 30 regional recipients, including George and Kristine Williams, a member of Cowichan Tribes. From those 30, 10 athletes were selected as provincial winners.
“Each recipient embodies the qualities of a leader, is connected to their community and is committed to their studies and future goals. These outstanding athletes have demonstrated perseverance and commitment to their sport during this challenging time,” said Corinne McKay, president of the I·SPARC board of directors. “Congratulations to all of you. We wish you the best with your future goals and are honoured to celebrate with you as you continue to excel and make your families and communities proud.”
A 16-year-old Cowichan Secondary School student whose heritage includes Kwakwaka’wakw and Oneida, George has been a soccer player throughout her life, and picked up canoeing in 2019, dedicating herself to the new sport, even when it meant quitting ballet so she could spend more time paddling.
George made the provincial canoe team for the postponed 2020 North American Indigenous Games after winning two provincial silver medals, and is a member of the Rainbow Canoe Club and Salish Warriors, who train in Cowichan Bay.
She has played minor soccer in Vancouver and the Cowichan Valley, high school soccer for the Cowichan Thunderbirds, and for her family team, the Turnour Island (T.I.) Braves.