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Canada's Trinity Ellis makes push for more Indigenous representation in luge

Trinity Ellis Trinity Ellis - The Canadian Press

WHISTLER, B.C. — Canadian Olympian Trinity Ellis did something a bit different this past off-season: worked on a farm.

Ellis's mom Shannon Didier is an agricultural manager for the Lil'wat First Nation and operates an organic mixed vegetable farm and community food centre to increase food security.

The Pemberton, B.C., native spends her winters competing on the luge World Cup circuit and her off-season looking to fit in jobs alongside her training.

"I've done so many jobs growing up, wherever I can fit in time to make some money," Ellis said with a laugh.

This past summer's work on the farm included picking weeds, maintaining vegetable beds and greenhouse work for the 21-year-old.

Ellis, who is Métis, said she wants to help raise the profile of Indigenous athletes in luge.

"Especially in luge there's not a lot of representation so it's pretty cool to bring that to the sport and hopefully inspire other Indigenous people to follow their dreams," she said.

Didier acknowledged the lack of Métis people in Pemberton and the surrounding area, and said Ellis has turned that into mentoring younger generations regardless of background.

"There is no Métis community, there's not a lot of Métis people around," said Didier. "(Ellis) is always more than willing to go and talk to schools in our local communities and that's always a pleasure to watch her interact with youth."

Ellis took up luge at 11 years old after being introduced to it during a Grade 6 field trip to the Whistler Sliding Centre.

"I remember her coming home and her going, 'I really liked that mom,' and I went 'of course you did', that rocketing adrenalin thing," said Didier.

"It's been a good ride, I always say if it ends tomorrow, it's been a great ride."

Ellis's luge career led to Olympic debut at the 2022 Beijing Games, where she was the top Canadian in the women’s singles event, placing 14th.

Ellis finished 16th in the event at the 2023 Eberspacher Luge World Cup circuit stop in Whistler, B.C., on Saturday.

She was also part of Canada’s sixth-place finish in the team relay.

"It's always a different experience racing at home," Ellis said. "You get all your family around, it's different than any other race."

She now looks ahead to a break over the holiday season before the season picks back up in January.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2023.