Engineering student receives aboriginal youth excellence in sport award

March 22, 2018

Taking the bow position on a rowing crew comes with a lot of responsibility and a fair bit of stress.

The bowman, who sits backwards in the front position of the ship, has to check for obstacles over his shoulder and help with steering, but these are pressures 18-year-old Graham Stewart learned how to handle.

Premier John Horgan said he is impressed and inspired by the young athletes. “As outstanding athletes and community leaders, this year's recipients truly represent British Columbia's best and brightest,” Horgan said. #bcpoli
In fact, the Victoria youth handled them so well that he was one of 12 recipients recognized with a 2017 Premier’s Award for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport, which were presented Tuesday in Richmond.

Stewart and his team won a silver medal at the 2017 B.C. championships and a bronze medal at the International Brentwood Regatta. Stewart was named the Gorge Narrows Rowing Club's Athlete of the Year in 2017.

Graham Stewart, 18, was one of 12 recipients of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport.
Graham Stewart, 18, was one of 12 recipients of the 2017 Premier’s Awards for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport.

This year, Stewart is still rowing, but is also tackling first-year engineering studies at the University of Victoria, where he received an academic scholarship.

Meanwhile, he has discovered a familial link to the Metis Nation, a culture he is beginning to explore by attending potlucks whenever he can and making connections.

“Everybody is very friendly no matter who you are. It feels very easy to be at ease there,” Stewart said in an interview with the National Observer. “I just want to get more and more involved.”

The awards, created by the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council (I·SPARC), in collaboration with the province, recognize Indigenous athletes, younger than age 25, who have achieved excellence in sport, have leadership qualities, are committed to a higher education and serve as role models.

Premier John Horgan said he is impressed and inspired by the young athletes.

“As outstanding athletes and community leaders, this year's recipients truly represent British Columbia's best and brightest,” Horgan said in a news release.

The awards were presented by Melanie Mark, minister of advanced education, skills and training, at the Gathering Our Voices Youth Conference in Richmond this week. Gathering Our Voices is a leadership training conference for Indigenous youth delegates, who can learn about, explore and engage with Indigenous culture.

Read the full Young Indigenous athletes recognized as leaders and role models story by Tracy Sherlock in the National Observer