Nuu-chah-nulth youth receives Premier’s Award

Denise Titian, December 22, 2017

Juniper John, seen standing in the middle of the top row, was recently recognized by the province for her proficiency in rifle shooting and the leadership she has demonstrated as a young member of the Ahousaht community. (Submitted photo) 

Victoria, BC — 

A Maaqtusiis Secondary School student has received a Premier’s Award for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport. Juniper John, age 15, was among seven other teenaged Vancouver Island Athletes honoured at a celebration held at Tsawout Community Center in Saanichton on Nov. 16.

Juniper John, the daughter of Ann Atleo and Kurt John, is active in basketball and rifle shooting. She took part in the 2017 North America Indigenous Games in the rifle competition.

Proud mother Anne Atleo said that two staff members from Maaqtusiis school wrote letters of support for Juniper. She was selected as one of the recipients based on her interest in the relatively unique sport of rifle shooting. But it was also based on leadership and other skills important to a community.

When she wasn’t preparing for the rifle competition, Juniper was out hunting ducks and harbour seal and if she caught something, she shared with the community.

She is also involved in language and culture. John was one of four students selected to travel to Hawaii for a language conference, said her mother

The newly launched Provincial Aboriginal Awards Program is the result of collaboration between the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I-SPARC) and the Province of British Columbia. It celebrates the achievement of young aboriginal athletes province-wide in six regions of British Columbia.

There were 141 province-wide nominations for aboriginal athletes under the age of 25 who are competing in sport and committed to living healthy, active lifestyles.

As a recipient of the Premier’s Award for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport, John is automatically nominated for Provincial Awards.

Whether she wins or not, John aspires to attend university in Hawaii. “She wants to go into medicine or business,” said Atleo. John hasn’t made up her mind on whether she wants to be a surgeon or a medical examiner. She is also interested in business, having run her own smoothie bar in Ahousaht for the past three years. “When she sets her mind to something she does it,” said Atleo.

Twelve winners of the Provincial Awards will be selected in February 2018. Winners of the Provincial Awards will be invited to attend the Aboriginal Youth Sport Leadership Forum held at the Gathering Our Voices Indigenous Youth Leadership Training in Richmond in March 2018.