'It has to do with my heritage' — Métis Kamloops paddlers win big at provincials

Kierra Willis sounded like an old soul, the 15-year-old speaking eloquently about the sport she loves and its ties to her roots.

“It has to do with my heritage, with me being Métis,” said Kierra, who had just broken from class at NorKam senior secondary on Wednesday afternoon.

article continues below

“For me to go do something that represents Indigenous youth in sport and their excellence in it, it just helps me kind of connect to my heritage and show people what we can do.”

She showed them, all right. So did fellow Kamloops Canoe and Kayak Club member Emma Guertin.

The duo returned home from the B.C. Aboriginal Provincial Canoe/Kayak Championships last month in Agassiz toting six medals, three apiece earned in one-person kayak races.

Emma, competing in the under-18 division, won gold in the 200-metre, 1,000m and 3,000m. Willis, paddling in the under-15 division, finished atop the podium in the 200m and 3,000m events and claimed silver in the 1,000m.

“There was a couple of girls who were fairly close to them, but they definitely did dominate,” said Shaunda Willis, Kierra’s mother.

“Our girls can train five days a week all summer.”

Head coach Stan Marek has long been sending KCKC athletes to national and international events, running a program at Shumway Lake that rivals the best in the province.

Emma and Kierra are expected to crack the Team B.C. development squad, from which athletes will be chosen to compete at the 2020 North American Indigenous Games, which will run from July 12 to July 19 in Halifax.

“Canoe/kayak is already such a tradition in many Aboriginal and Indigenous cultures,” Kierra said. “Being able to go and represent for Team B.C., for my culture, would be a huge way to bring that heritage into the spotlight for some people, especially the people around me.”

Kierra trains five days a week, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., during the summer.

“I train for kayaking the same as I do for school,” she said.

The dedicated paddler usually practises between four to six days a week, for about two to three hours each day, in the spring, fall and winter.

“It’s kind of what I do,” Kierra said.

Training paid off for Kierra and Emma earlier this year with a trip to the Canoe Kayak Canada Sprint National Championships in Regina. Both reached finals in team-boat competition.

They seem likely to get more international experience next year in Halifax.

“It’s another stepping stone in my kayaking career to go to a major competition like that,” Kierra said.

© Kamloops This Week

 


KAMLOOPS WEATHER

Question of the Week POLL

Housing prices are soaring. If you were looking to buy, what price range could you afford?

or  view results

Popular Kamloops This Week

Events Calendar

Help Us Help Kamloops. Support Local Media.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Kamloops This Week is now soliciting donations from readers. This program is designed to support our local journalism in a time where our advertisers are unable to due to their own economic constraints. Kamloops This Week has always been a free product and will continue to be free. This is a means for those who can afford to support local media to help ensure those who can’t afford to can get access to trusted local information. You can make a one-time or a monthly donation of any amount and cancel at any time .

NEW: For every donation of $25 or greater, we will offer a digital advertising package to the local non-profit group of your choice.

Click on https://support.kamloopsthisweek.com for more information or to make your donation.

Thank you in advance for your support.