Splatsin First Nation member Darian Williams, 17, a Vernon archer, is one of six Interior region winners of the 2020 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports. (I-SPARC photo)

Splatsin First Nation member Darian Williams, 17, a Vernon archer, is one of six Interior region winners of the 2020 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports. (I-SPARC photo)

Okanagan Indigenous athletes recognized for excellence

Vernon archer Darian Williams and Kelowna multi-sport star Tuja Dreyer among six regional finalists for Premier’s Awards

A natural-born archer, Darian Williams of the Splatsin First Nation wants to teach his sport to others.

When not taking aim at a bullseye target, Williams helps his band deliver food and clothes to those in need, and is a proud member of his band’s war canoe team who is uplifting his teammates.

Williams, 17, from Vernon, is one of six outstanding athletes named as Interior regional recipients of the 2020 Premier’s Awards for Indigenouse Youth Excellence in Sport, announced by the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I-SPARC).

“My sincerest appreciation goes to my coaches, and I’d like to thank my foster parents for their support in my sports and all my activities,” said Williams in a 13-minute video created by I-SPARC showcasing the six Interior winners.

Joining Williams as an Interior winner is 13-year-old multiple sport enthusiast Tuja Dreyer of Kelowna, representing the Ross River Dena Council in his native Yukon Territory.

Dreyer competes in judo, swimming and wresting.

“I am truly honoured by and appreciate the selection,” said Dreyer, a BC Games bronze medalist in judo, and Okanagan wrestling champ and member of the Kelowna Aquajets Swim Club. “Sports are important, especially in these COVID times. I’d like to thank all of my coaches for finding creative ways to keep us active.”

Splatsin member James Hamming, 20, of Kamloops, was also an Interior winner for his prowress in the sport of snowboard cross.

I·SPARC, in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia, launched the regional nomination process in late 2020, receiving nominations from each of I·SPARC’s six regions (Fraser, Interior, Northeast, Northwest, Vancouver Coastal, and Vancouver Island) for Indigenous athletes under 25 years of age who are competing in performance sport, and demonstrating a commitment to their education, culture, and promoting healthy and active lifestyles.

“I personally congratulate the recipients in the Interior region. Now, more than ever, inspirational leaders like you are helping to bring our communities together. You have honoured the province, your nations, and your families with unwavering commitment and hard work,” said Bruce Baptiste, Interior I·SPARC regional lead.

Due to the pandemic restrictions, the Regional Awards celebrations could not be held this year.

Over the past week, I·SPARC announced the 30 regional recipients of the Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport, by region. These regional recipients automatically serve as nominees for the Provincial Awards, which will be announced later this year.

Joining Williams and Dreyer as Interior winners are Isaac Bedford, 16, Archery, 150 Mile House, Métis Nation BC; Daine Dubois, 21, Hockey, Williams Lake, Cariboo Chilcotin Metis Association; James Hamming, 20, Snowboard Cross Racing, Kamloops, Splatsin First Nation; Clinton Kaboni, 18, Field Lacrosse and Cross-Country, Merritt, Nipissing First Nation.

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Ross River Dena Council member Tuja Dreyer, 13, a Kelowna three-sport star who excels in swimming, judo and wrestling,is one of six Interior region winners of the 2020 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports. (I-SPARC photo)

Ross River Dena Council member Tuja Dreyer, 13, a Kelowna three-sport star who excels in swimming, judo and wrestling,is one of six Interior region winners of the 2020 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports. (I-SPARC photo)

Splatsin First Nation member James Hamming, 20, of Kamloops, a snowboard cross racer, is one of six Interior region winners of the 2020 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports. (I-SPARC photo)

Splatsin First Nation member James Hamming, 20, of Kamloops, a snowboard cross racer, is one of six Interior region winners of the 2020 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports. (I-SPARC photo)