Christna Proteau Holds The Canadian Women's Mid-Amateur Trophy In 2021 - Golf Canada Image
Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf
Christina Proteau is a multiple winner of national and provincial golf championships and also qualified to play in the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open.
She cherishes each of those victories and all of the special moments she’s had playing the game she loves, but perhaps none of those events will be as meaningful as the one the Port Alberni native will compete in at the end of May.
Proteau will not only play in the inaugural Indigenous Championship British Columbia, she has also agreed to serve as chair of the tournament, which goes May 28-30 at Nk’mip Canyon Desert Golf Course in Oliver.
“I have no idea what I have got myself into, but I am going to rely on the good people at British Columbia Golf to do their thing and I will do whatever I need to do and hopefully play in between,” Proteau says with a laugh as she contemplates what figures to be a busy week.
The prospect of bringing an Indigenous championship to life was one of the reasons Proteau agreed to join the board of directors of British Columbia Golf a year ago. “I can’t really take any credit,” says Proteau, who works as a Crown prosecutor in Port Alberni. “A lot of people did a lot of things before I came on board. I have just tried to offer any insight that I could.”
As chair of the tournament, Proteau has been trying to spread the word. She has done interviews with mainstream media like the CBC and also sat down recently to chat with Kiefer Collison, who produces a podcast called Just a Podcast from the Rez. Collison grew up playing golf on Haida Gwaii and is now a member at Skeena Valley Golf Club in Terrace.
“We had a really good talk and hopefully that podcast is going to reach a demographic of people who might not otherwise know a whole lot about British Columbia Golf,” Proteau says. “So that is how I have been helping out, just trying to offer my time to get the word out there and hopefully using my name in golf for some good.”
Proteau has also found herself talking more than she ever has about her own Indigenous roots. She has never hidden her heritage, but did not exactly shout it from the rooftops while growing up.
Her late father, Mark Spence, was Cree-Metis and grew up in Spence Lake, Man.
“Quite frankly, unless you have been a good friend of mine or a family member, you may not have known that about me,” Proteau says. “I was raised to be proud of my Indigenous ancestry but at the same time it was a lot harder 25 years ago to talk about that side of your history as opposed to what it is like to talk about it now.
“I just feel like I need to do more with golf than just playing and competing. For me, selfishly combining something to do with my father’s Indigenous ancestry and my golf is fun to do. My boys are at an age (5 and 8) where they understand it, they understand their own history, they understand that mommy is half decent at golf and to put those two things together that’s kind of fun for them, too.”
Image Credit Bryan Outram/BC Golf
Christina Proteau Competes In The BC Mid-Am At Ledgeview In 2019
Proteau knows that golf has had a profound impact on shaping her life and provided her with some life-changing opportunities. What most excites her about the new Indigenous Championship is that it will welcome new players to the game.
Proteau earned a scholarship to the University of New Mexico and later played on the golf team at University of Victoria, where she earned a law degree. But long before that, golf was helping her navigate her way through her early years. “If you are going through some personal things as a teenager, the golf course was a great escape and the fact that I earned an education was great.
"The tournaments I have been able to play in and the places I have been able to travel to, it has been a huge part of my life. There’s a lot more to my life than golf, but it has been huge piece and I am not sure how my life would have unfolded without the game of golf.”
The inaugural Indigenous Championship will serve as a qualifier for the World Indigenous Games. Proteau is hoping to earn a return visit. She played in and won a gold medal at the 1997 World Indigenous Games as back-catcher on her softball team. “It was an incredible experience,” Proteau says. “It’s an amazing cultural and sporting event that some people may not even know exists. And the fact we are able to give people an opportunity to qualify is wonderful.”
Proteau hopes a good-sized field will gather for the Nk’mip tournament and was encouraged when she signed up to play. “I wanted to be the first person to register for this historic event and when I went to register I wasn’t even close,” she says. “Several people had already signed up on day one and I thought, this is great. And they were competitors that I did’t necessarily recognize, so I was excited about that.
“I think success would be having a good-sized field competing and just seeing people enjoying themselves and having fun and wanting to come back again next year. This is not a one-time event, this is a legacy that we are starting in British Columbia and I want to see this event continue to grow and move around the province and highlight different Indigenous groups.”