A stellar Sts’ailes First Nation athlete, Olympian and retired Vancouver Whitecap has been recognized with one of the highest honours the nationwide Indigenous community can bestow.
Terry Felix was recently recognized as an Indspire Award Laureate in the sports department. The Indspire Awards recognize Indigenous professionals and youth who demonstrate outstanding success in their fields and as acting as a role model for Indigenous youth, fostering cultural pride and self-esteem.
Felix was the first Indigenous athlete in North America to play professional soccer when he signed on with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 1981.
“We weren’t allowed to play in white tournaments, but there was one tournament in Chilliwack that allowed us to enter, and we played all the best teams,” Felix recalled in a video preceding the Indspire Awards broadcast on June 19. “A Whitecaps scout was at the tournament, so he came up to me and my dad and said ‘Well, Terry, come to Vancouver and try out for the youth team.’”
He remains the only Indigenous person to play for both the Canadian Olympic Team in May 1983 and the Canadian National team in June 1983, starting for both teams and the Whitecaps when he was only 23 years old. His career was tragically cut short after a serious knee injury while training with the Canadian Olympic Team.
After his career as a player ended, Felix became heavily involved in First Nations soccer and coached for 38 years. His legacy of teaching, coaching and mentorship earned him a place in the B.C. Hall of Fame Indigenous Sports Gallery in 2018 and an induction into the B.C. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2020.
“What you’ve achieved and accomplished in your lifetime is truly amazing,” said Peter Felix, Terry’s son, in a video message. “I’m proud of you.”
Back home, Felix served on the Sts’ailes council for 14 years and has been counseling federal inmates for the past 14 years.