16-year-old soccer player earns Aboriginal Sport Circle's athlete of the year

Greg Villeneuve Jr. has two career goals: play professional soccer with Toronto FC and earn a degree from the University of Alberta to become a cardiologist.

Aboriginal Sports Circle recognizes the best in N.W.T. sport

A Grade 11 student at Deninu Kue school in Fort Resolution, Greg Villeneuve Jr. was named the 2018 Sport Award Winner by the Aboriginal Sports Circle last night at the Explorer Hotel. (Submitted by Greg Villeneuve)

Greg Villeneuve Jr. walked away from the Explorer Hotel last night with hardware declaring him the Aboriginal Sports Circle's top athlete in 2018.  

A resident of Fort Resolution, Villeneuve has showcased his talent on a northern and national stage. The soccer forward competed in this year's Arctic Winter Games and represented the N.W.T. at the North American Indigenous Games in 2017.

"I never expected to win any big sports awards like this," said Villeneuve. "Sports is really the only thing you can do in the community and I've been involved in it since I was 10." 

A Grade 11 student at Deninu Kue school, Villeneuve has two career goals: to play professional soccer with Toronto FC in Major League Soccer, and to become a cardiologist. 

He said his plan is to study at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. 

In the meantime the 16-year-old continues to give back to younger athletes in the community through coaching .

"I joined soccer because of the older kids, when I was young," Villeneuve said. "Now I like to get the younger kids involved so they keep the tradition going." 

Villeneuve competed for the N.W.T. during the 2017 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto. (Submitted by Greg Villeneuve)

Beth Hudson is the events manager at the Aboriginal Sports Circle. She said two people nominated Villeneuve for the award.

"Greg is a hard worker, active in his community and extremely reliable," said Hudson. "His quiet leadership style has helped others feel comfortable and confident in participating in different activities in the community."

Hudson added the Aboriginal Sports Circle is proud to give Villeneuve the 2018 Sport Award.

Best in sport honoured at awards gala  

Some of the best in sport from across the N.W.T. filed into the Explorer Hotel for this year's Aboriginal Sports Circle award ceremony.  

Fort Simpson's Jackie Whelly took home the community builder award. A teacher in the the Dehcho, Whelly believes in youth and looks to empower the next generation of leaders, said Hudson.

Also a resident of Fort Simpson, Jonathan Tsetso received the coach of the year award. 

Tsetso is involved in the community's minor hockey program. He won the award due to his commitment to the youth and encouraging them to participate, said Hudson.  

Hay River teacher Kelly Webster took won the Northwest Territories Teacher Association award.

Community representatives get recognition

Other winners include Caroline Bonnetrouge, who took home the culture award for preserving Dene language and teaching people moosehide tanning and moose-hair tuffing in Fort Providence.    

A 10-year member of the RCMP in the territory, Chris Whynot won the 2018 RCMP award. He has coached a variety of sports including biathlon, soccer, hockey, baseball and jiu-jitsu.