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  • Joy SpearChief-Morris

2017 In Review

Another year has come and gone (when I write that all I hear is Dumbledore's voice in my head saying that phrase in the Philosopher's Stone...I know I know... #nerdalert #nerdandproud), and with it we take some time to reflect on the year that has passed and what it is we would like to see in the year to come. I am not going to lie, for the last few months I have been one of those people saying that I could not wait for this year to end. But in the last few days I have been reflecting and realizing that in my struggle to forget the pains of this past year, I forgot to celebrate all of what I accomplished and all of the good things that did happen this year.

One thing that got me thinking about the good of 2017 was the "Best Nine" on Instagram. Have you heard of the "Best Nine?" Well, it is this website where you put in your Instagram username and it creates a collage of your top nine posts of the year based on which received the most likes. While nine posts is never enough to truly sum up a whole year, and basing them on the most likes is not exactly awesome either, it is a nice way to see a little summary of your year, as was shared on social media anyway. Well, my "Best Nine" ended up like this:

And while there is nothing wrong with this collage, I just did not feel that it truly represented my year. I wanted something that showed all of what 2017 has been for me, the struggles and the accomplishments, and more than just me as an athlete or the "pretty" track photos people see on my Instagram. 2017 has been my most challenging year to date. I suffered many setbacks, heartbreaks, and disappointments. I have had to learn very many hard lessons about myself and about life. I became, well, I would call myself a realist, but many people began to see me as a pessimist. I guess I felt that because life kept kicking me down I might as well start to acknowledge that life is not all sunshine and rainbows. I know that I am very lucky and blessed in my life when compared to other people who have gone through such hardships and struggles this year, but my struggles and pains are also valid and were felt with the real hardship that they were for me. But I am learning and I am still working very hard at changing my perspective. I am working at learning from life's challenges and start to see the wonderful things in life that are happening around and for me. So, I made my own "Best Nine" to show nine of my favourite moments of this past year. Moments that I felt were major accomplishments for me, or were those moments of the year that made me feel lucky, blessed, proud, or just plain old happy.

So, what did I think were the best and proudest moments of my 2017?

I graduated from university with my bachelor's degree

After five years of switching majors, schools, teams, and even roommates, I finally did it! My brother and I are second generation university graduates in our family and so graduating is a major accomplishment. For me, I was happy to celebrate the five years of hard work, self discovery and personal growth. I was also happy to be able to have the opportunity to celebrate the day I walked across the stage with my degree with my family who all flew to London, Ontario to celebrate with me.

I finished my university track career with a bang!

I think it is safe to say I accomplished more in five years on the track than I ever thought I would have when I entered university. Was it easy? Of course not, but oh boy was it worth it! Beyond the medals and titles and accomplishments I achieved on the track, I gained valuable friendships, I travelled places I have never been before, I learned how to be strong, how to persevere and realized new dreams. I ended my university career this year being recognized for my accomplishments as Western University's Graduating Female Athlete of the Year. In November, I received the Tom Longboat Award as the female Aboriginal Athlete of the Year in Canada. This award was particularly special because it was the first time I was recognized as an Indigenous athlete for my accomplishments. For the award I got to travel to Toronto and share the night with my mom as well as one of my coaches, Vickie Croley, and my mentor and friend Janice Forsyth. The event was inspiring and motivating and also put in perspective for me what I want to accomplish with track for Indigenous people in Canada.

I learned how to do things on my own

I like to think of myself as a pretty independent person. However I am an extrovert and I like to be around people, and I do not do too well with being on my own for too long. However, I am trying to be more comfortable with being on my own and doing things for and by myself. This year I travelled to Belgium and Amsterdam on my own. While I was not alone for the whole trip and did spend a lot of time travelling with some new trackie friends, I did also spend a good portion of the trip travelling, touring and exploring new places by myself. Then in August I moved myself, driving my car with all of my belongings from London, Ontario all the way back home to Lethbridge, Alberta for 30 hours and 3000 miles by myself. These may seem like small feats to some people but for me they were true testaments of being able to stand on my own.

I took a chance on myself and decided to chase a new dream

In September I moved to Santa Barbara, California to chase the dream of being an Olympian. So far it has been hard and challenging and I am still adjusting to my new life in California, but I am confident that this was the right choice for me. I am confident that things are going to start to turn around in my favour in 2018. I have met some wonderful people and made some new friends. I am working on discovering what I want to do with my life and career outside of track. I am also enjoying my new training group and liking the progress I am making on the track, even if it has meant coming close to passing out on the faculty hill a few times.

So what am I looking forward to in 2018? I am looking forward to new adventures: to travelling the world, meeting new people and appreciating more of those beautiful moments. I am looking forward to celebrating myself more and my achievements; the goals I am going to accomplish and all the little lessons learnt along the way. I am looking forward to celebrating friends and family and all those big days that are to come this year! Lastly, I am looking forward to finding more of those lucky, blessed, proud and plain old happy moments.

Happy New Year everyone!


In order to reach my athletic goals for 2018, I am looking for financial support through my GoFundMe page. Funds raised from this campaign will go towards the expenses involved for this coming track season, including major travel costs and accommodations to large meets, track costs for training and competing and meet entrance fees. If you can, please share my page with your friends, family and social networks (link below), and if you can please donate to my cause! I appreciate any help I can get, even sharing my page can go a long way. Thank you everyone for your support.

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