W̱SÁNEĆ youths’ participation in sports is not only a continuation of a legacy of athletic excellence but also a primer for the leadership skills that will support W̱SÁNEĆ youth throughout life.

Sports have always been integral to the W̱SÁNEĆ community. And, despite lack of access compared to youth in settler communities – such as financial barriers, which include things like a lack of transportation or difficulty accessing physical activities due to inadequate infrastructure and equipment – W̱SÁNEĆ athletes have repeatedly excelled.

Recently, community members like Blake Swan and Tua Va’a have

demonstrated incredible talent in lacrosse and boxing, respectively. John Etzel Jr. is another of the many talented athletes in the W̱SÁNEĆ community, showcasing their

ability both locally and across Canada.


The W̱SÁNEĆ community’s success in athletics is not limited to individual efforts. In 2023, the Saanich Hurricanes women’s soccer team triumphed at the Saanich

Invitational Native Soccer Tournament at Tsartlip under the leadership of Coach

Rhiannon Olsen. Olsen and her sister Amanda Williams took over from their

mother, Gina Underwood, who coached the team when they were known as the

Saanich Islanders. In another display of an athletically gifted family, Len Morris and his son Jasper Morris work together as part of the Geronimo Canoe Club while also winning bronze and gold medals, respectively, at the 2022 World Sprint paddling championship.


These accounts of storied W̱SÁNEĆ athletes are nothing new; W̱SÁNEĆ community members have risen to the highest levels of sport for decades. The Geronimo Canoe Club, for example, honed its talents to the point that it now ranks toward the top of global competitions, and Tsartlip Chief Thunderbird (Jean Baptiste Paul) was a world champion wrestler who is honoured in the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council is committed to supporting W̱SÁNEĆ athletes not only because of the historic importance of W̱SÁNEĆ participation in sports and the many lauded athletes in the W̱SÁNEĆ community but because participation in sports primes young community members to be the leaders of tomorrow.

W̱SÁNEĆ youths’ participation in sports provides an opportunity to gain valuable life skills that pave the way for success on and off the field. Through sports, athletes learn the importance of leadership, teamwork, effective communication, strategic thinking, and self-awareness. Teamwork fosters mutual respect and cooperation, which are essential for any successful collaborative effort. The communication skills developed in team sports are vital for appreciating others and increasing emotional maturity. And, organization and self-discipline help youth realize strengths and weaknesses, encouraging self-reflection and continuous improvement.

Participation in sports also helps W̱SÁNEĆ youth cultivate strong mental health, preparing participants to face any challenges that might arise throughout life. The community-based organization Hope and Health reports that even though Indigenous youth face significantly higher rates of suicide and violence compared to

non-Indigenous peers, participation in sports can greatly benefit Indigenous

youth by improving cognitive, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It can

also lower the chances of depression and suicidal thoughts by 25% and 12%, respectively.


Given the powerful benefits of sport for W̱SÁNEĆ youth, WLC is committed to showing up to support the community’s athletes. WLC celebrates and uplifts W̱SÁNEĆ athletes of all levels by attending games, following their careers, and highlighting accomplishments on the WLC website.


WLC calls upon the community to help celebrate and encourage participation in sports among W̱SÁNEĆ community members. There are two ways to help.


First, WLC would like to feature more W̱SÁNEĆ athletes on its website and social media channels. To nominate a W̱SÁNEĆ athlete to receive a spotlight, contact (778) 909-1895


Second, we are thrilled to share that the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, in support of fostering sports and athletic talent in our community, has secured a sports suite at the Pacific Football Club (PFC)!

This suite serves as a vibrant gathering space for W̱SÁNEĆ members during PFC matches, celebrating our shared passion for soccer.

This initiative builds on the wonderful gift of a soccer pitch at ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School, donated by Pacific FC, reinforcing our ongoing partnership aimed at promoting sports and supporting athletes within the W̱SÁNEĆ community.

WLC is currently giving away tickets to attend games. The lucky winners will have the opportunity to cheer with W̱SÁNEĆ in person from the comfort of the sports suite. Text WIN, Your First and Last Name and Email Address to (778) 909-1895 to enter. 


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