It was fitting that the first official event for the Vancouver Island Thunder Aboriginal Youth Rugby Program was at Thunderbird Park in Victoria. The Thunderbird is the symbol of the new rugby program and is proudly displayed on the team jerseys. The occasion was a photo shoot run by veteran rugby photographer, Judy Teasdale. The photos will be used in printed and online media to promote the program throughout the province.
The backdrop for the photo shoot was Mungo Martin house which is a traditional Kwakwaka'wakw "big house" built in 1953 by Kwakwaka'wakw Chief Mungo Martin.
One of the key people in attendance was national team player Phil Mack. He will be the head coach for the program which hopes to enter both boys and girls teams in the Victoria International Youth 7s tournament in July. Phil Mack is from the Toquaht Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Program Director John Lyall of Kwakwaka’wakw descent who is also the Vice-President of the Vancouver Island Rugby Union had this to say, "We have had an overwhelming response to our Thunder program, from the rugby and Aboriginal community. Rugby by its nature is very inclusive, and people generally open their conversations simply with how can we help? Our turnout for the photo shoot was great, with youth and families coming all the way from Courtenay to be involved. Judy Teasdale did a great job as always with the photos. We look forward to the camps in the spring and our fundraiser April 27th at the Crooked Goose."
You can follow the Thunder program through their facebook page (www.facebook.com/VancouverIslandThunderRugby), twitter feed (@1stNationsRugby)
or website (firstnationsrugby.com)