With a love for the game in her heart and her community’s support at her back, Jada Touchie’s future is shining as brightly as the silver medal she earned at the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto.
The 13-year-old Ucluelet First Nation basketball star was thrilled to earn a spot on Team B.C.’s Under-14 basketball team, which cruised through their competition from July 17-19 until being bested by Wisconsin in July 20’s gold medal match.
“It was an honour for me to go to represent my family, my Nation and B.C.,” Touchie told the Westerly News. “It was empowering to see all of the Indigenous Athletes at the Opening Ceremonies who were all there to compete at that high level. I felt proud seeing so many Nuu-chah-nulth and Vancouver Island athletes who came from such small communities to represent B.C., including myself.”
She said she enjoyed the challenge of competing at an international level and is aiming for gold next time around.
“I was excited to go to NAIG because it was an opportunity to compete at a higher level of competition. It also was an opportunity to travel across Canada and a time to make new friends and get to know my teammates, who were from across B.C. I liked being able to work on my skills. I learned new things after working with my coaches,” she said.
“I know I did the best that I could and I had a lot of playing time, but I know I still have far to go. Going for Gold next time means we have a lot to work on. I will take what I can, learn from my mistakes and realize what I can do to improve, like being able to dribble and shoot with both hands and working on my offence.”
Touchie said she enjoys playing basketball on the West Coast, but added there aren’t many other girls her age to play with.
“This past school year, I was in Grade 8 and I had to play with the senior girls team because there wasn’t enough interest in my age group,” she said. “This coming school year, I will most likely play school ball with the boys,…We don’t have enough girls from our home Nation but I am fortunate because I can play Junior All Native Basketball with my mom’s home Nation; the Hesquiaht Storm.”
She said her parents have consistently encouraged her athletic pursuits and she’s felt the West Coast’s communal strength behind her.
“My dad, Tyson Touchie Sr., took time to train me in and outside of the gym. My mom, Anita Charleson-Touchie, spent lots of time to fundraise and she made it possible for me to go to Toronto. They are definitely huge role models in my life,” she said.
“Thank you [Ucluelet] First Nation-Interfor project, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Ucluelet Petro-Canada, many grandparents, and family and friends for your financial contributions. Thank you to all individuals and organizations who gave me support in other ways. Tleko tleko—thank you.”