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Lacrosse Luminary Tewanee Joseph Teaches Life Lessons in the Box

To Tewanee Joseph, lacrosse is much more than just a sport, it’s a way of living. 

Joseph has played and coached lacrosse his entire life and has always included the game’s history in his coaching practice.  

This coming Friday, the Vancouver Warriors will honour the rich history of the game with their First Nations Celebration Night. The Warriors will take on the reigning NLL Cup Champ Buffalo Bandits on Friday on the traditional ancestral and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. 

From Squamish Nation, Joseph, will be attending and is bringing the North Shore Indians Junior B team to celebrate. The Warriors are role models for youth all over the Lower Mainland and Joseph says it’s great for the players to have a pro lacrosse team close by to look up to. 

“The Warriors are these kid’s inspiration in life, and everybody becomes witnesses to the important work that the Warriors are doing in honouring First Nations culture this way,” Joseph said when talking about what the impact of this night can have. “I think it’s really groundbreaking, but also at the same time, it’s important because there’s so many people that the game touches in terms of culture and sport.” 

Joseph grew up on the Squamish Nation Reservation in North Vancouver and played for the North Shore Indians Lacrosse Club. He won two Presidents’ Cup Championships with the North Shore Indians and two National Field Lacrosse Championships representing Team B.C. 

Throughout his coaching career, he’s always included history lessons on the roots of lacrosse including guest speakers from all over including Six Nations, and Elders and other people from the community. 

He’s always loved coaching and helping people through their lacrosse journey and through life. He likes to keep in touch with players he’s coached whether it’s diving into the nuances of the game or lending an ear. 

“It’s really about life lessons. The game is a way to bring us together and learn the fundamentals of the game, but also the camaraderie and the leadership and the communication. It’s really those things that we apply to our life. And that’s some of the things that we reinforced with our kids we coach.” 

In lacrosse you can’t go far without crossing paths with someone you once played with. Joseph played Senior A on the Indians squad with Warriors’ Head Coach and GM Curt Malawsky, and the two also played together in a Master’s League. Warriors’ Assistant Coach Rob Williams played and coached lacrosse with Joseph throughout the years. 

“Curt played in our Squamish nation community, and he loves the game as much as we love it. His passion for the sport is the exact passion that we have for the sport, how we care for it, and how we want it to be a part of our lives so meaningfully,” Joseph said. 

“We got to share these different experiences with one another, but also the medicine of the game, because everybody goes through difficult times in life. Lacrosse is really the medicine that you always need to bring you through it. And that’s something that Rob and I talked a lot about was what it means not only to us, but to those we coach.” 

Malawsky is a big believer in the principle of reciprocity and honouring the origins of lacrosse every practice and game he steps foot in the box.  

“Having the support of First Nations people on a night like this is something you can’t quantify. It’s the Creator’s game and we pay homage to them every time we play. We’re fortunate that they’re here supporting the Vancouver Warriors.” 

The tight-knit community of lacrosse and family-oriented feel surrounding the sport is a result of the game’s tradition and heritage. 

“The sport brings everybody from every different walk of life together and I think that’s what I fell in love with, combined with the competitiveness and skill level and just the great people you meet along the way. I try and do my best to be a good ambassador for the game of lacrosse” Malawsky shared. 

With lots of familiar faces around the arena and in the box, Joseph says First Nations Night will be a memorable celebration of community and lacrosse.  

Vancouver Warriors