Chelsei Gray of the Scowlitz First Nation has held a paddle in her hand since the age of nine, and it showed at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto.
The young Kayak star took home 3 medals, one for every event she raced in, including a gold in the Women’s U16, 1000-metre race.
Gray was one of 10 recipients of the Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport on June 18. The province, in partnership with the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (ISPARC), created the awards to honour Indigenous youth role models who excel in sports, education and leadership in their communities.
“These unique awards program gives us an opportunity to honour the achievements of ten extraordinary Indigenous athletes,” said Rick Brant, ISPARC’s executive director. “The Premier’s Awards celebrate the outstanding athletic performances and share the stories of how these youth have given back to their communities, their commitment to education, and demonstrated leadership that inspires us all.”
Gray helps raise money for food banks, teaches powwow dancing in her community and hopes to become a police officer one day, according to the ISPARC video below.
She currently running 10 kilometres a day in training for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games in Halifax. The games were initially planned for the week of July 12, 2020, but have been postponed another year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The awards were originally supposed to be given out in March at the Gathering Our Voices Indigenous Youth Leadership Training in Kamloops, but were also put on hold because of the pandemic.
“Sport can play a powerful role in helping us lead healthy lives, and that’s particularly true for children and youth,” said Premier John Horgan. “These awards are an opportunity to recognize and celebrate these exceptional athletes’ accomplishments in sport, school, and community.”