Nicola Terbasket: 

  • What is your name, and nation?

Nicola Terbasket, Lower Similkameen Indian Band, Syilx Nation.

  • How were you introduced to sport as a youth? Where did your journey in sport begin?
  • Which sports have you played?
  • Were you integrated in both indigenous and mainstream sport?
  • Have you ever been to NAIG? Tell us about your experience :)

I first started out with sports as a young child. I grew up swimming in the river and I took swimming lessons in preschool. I also participated in triathlons when I was younger (swimming, cycling, and running) as I really enjoyed long distance running. As a child, I also took dance (ballet, jazz, and hip-hop) until my middle school years. I was such an active child, I really enjoyed moving my body so I played many mainstream sports. I was very fortunate that my parents supported my sister and me in all the sports we wanted to do, as they spent many afternoons and weekends driving us 45-mins to the next town over for dance and later gymnastics. Gymnastics became my favourite sport as I did it for many years, finishing at a Provincial 1 level before my passion for basketball took over. I started playing basketball when I was 13. My mom encouraged me to join the Syilx Jr. Girls Basketball Team that was in its inaugural year of training for the Junior All Native Basketball Tournament (JANT) that occurs in March of every year. This was when I started getting more involved in Indigenous-run sports. I joined the team as a baby, playing with girls from my community and Nation who were a few years older than me and had been playing ball for a few years by then. My teammates, along with my coach supported me and shaped me into the basketball player I am today. I played with the Syilx Jr. Girls Basketball Team for 4 years, we won the JANT 3 times, and I was awarded MVP in my last year in Kamloops.

When I was 17, I played on Aboriginal Team BC in the U19 Girls Basketball division. NAIG 2014 was in Regina that summer and it was a great experience. The opening ceremonies were amazing, the energy packed on that football field in the blazing heat with my teammates from across the province was something I won’t forget. NAIG is such a great time to come together with friends that you meet through sport that you only see a handful of times a year. Its one of the best things about NAIG, meeting people and forming new and old connections. The level of sport is also competitive at this level which for me is an important part as I love good competition. Unfortunately, my basketball team was the only Team BC team that didn’t place lol. Trading “Team BC” gear for other provinces, territories, and states’ gear was also a cool part of NAIG.

I went to Vancouver Island University right out of high school and played on the Women’s Varsity Basketball Team for the four years I was going to school. I took the Sports, Health, and Physical Education program and graduated with my Bachelors Degree in 2018. Playing for the VIU Mariners taught me a lot about resiliency and never giving up, I trained hard and improved as a player over the years and was honored to start my final home game. After I was done school, my old teammates from the Syilx Jr. Girls Basketball team got back together along with our coach and other women from the Lower Similkameen got together to form the Similkameen Starbirds. We went to the annual All Native Basketball Tournament for our first time in 2018 and made it to the finals, losing a close game to Haisla. I still continue to play in Native Basketball Tournaments during the spring seasons as these tournaments are so much fun and are a great way to continue being active as a young adult. 

  • Who is your biggest role model/hero?

My biggest role model/hero is probably my mom.

  • How has your Indigenous heritage influenced you as an athlete and a person?

I grew up in my community, close to my family and culture. I grew up attending pow-wows and dancing (Jingle Dress style). Many summers were spent on the pow-wow trail, as my mom, sister and I attended pow-wows every weekend all over BC and Washington. I have been listening and learning my whole life, gaining valuable teachings from my gramma, my dad and other traditional knowledge keepers in my community. I remember learning basic Nsyilxcen (Okanagan) when I was younger but have a hard time pronouncing words and speaking full sentences now. This is something that I would like to learn more of, as with the pressures and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are at an increased chance of losing our Elders and their knowledge. I guess if I were to answer this question, I would say you bring the teachings and values that you were taught in your culture into every aspect of your life including sport. Sport is similar in a way as it teaches you many things that many youth do not realize until later in life. Sport teaches you self-discipline, time management, decision making and people skills among countless other transferable skills. Sport teaches responsibility and accountability to yourself, your teammates, and your coach.

  • What would you like to see in the Okanagan with regards to sport and reconciliation?

More local engagement with the people whose territory, settlers are working, living and playing on. Engagement on what is needed by communities and Nations in what they want and need to be physically active. First Nations groups that are local to the area should have a seat at the table in regards to any decision making, planning, and implementation of any sport activity within the Okanagan. What do the people need? What do they want? What supports are necessary to improve physical activity levels and overall health of communities and Nations? Engagement with the communities and Nations is a must, it cannot be an afterthought. UNDRIP/TRC Calls to Action. Must be community driven. Must acknowledge the urban (away from home) and Metis populations in the area as well.

  • What does your future look like? What are your aspirations in sport and life?’

I am currently finishing up a term position on the projects team in the Interior Region of First Nations Health Authority. I am planning on returning to school to pursue my Masters in Public Health as I plan to have a career in First Nations Health and Wellness whatever that may be. I will continue to live a healthy and active life with running, hiking, and working out. I have slowed down in the sport world but I continue to play basketball for fun. I hope to one day to give back to Indigenous youth in sport through coaching/volunteering/management as those before me, did for me.