September 28, 2022

Victim of COVID, tournament organizer commemorated with dedication of Sugar Cane Ball Diamond – Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) Sugar Cane Ball Diamond Field is named after the late Byron Louie, who died in January 2021 of COVID-19.

“Byron played ball and started the vision for our ballpark,” said WLFN leader Willie Sellars. “He did the first major renovation that led to what we have now. He organizes tournaments there. He was a solid guy, appreciated and known in the baseball circuit.

A new sign reading “Welcome to Sugar Cane Byron Louie Memorial Park” was unveiled on Saturday, August 13 during a fun, family-friendly ball tournament hosted by Byron’s family.

“He was a good friend to all of us,” Sellars said.

Byron, who was the son of former chief Ann Louie, was almost 47 when he died.

Ann said that last year a golf tournament was held at Coyote Rock in her memory.

“My youngest son, Will Louie, organized the events in conjunction with WLFN. The group was very supportive and very respectful in honoring our son, father, uncle, brother and friend.

She described Byron as a “very kind and special young man” who was taken too soon.

He made many friends and worked in various fields for the band, including haymaking, logging, mining, treaty negotiations and was manager of the Chief Will Yum gas bar.

Bryon loved his sports, played hockey and was an excellent hockey player.

“A lot of people still talk about the way he played. He played ball, golf, poker and held bingo for our seniors who loved him,” Ann said.

Byron left behind three adult sons – Malcolm, Jaron and Daniel Sellars – who reside in Kamloops with their mother.

Chief Sellars said an invitation was sent out to anyone who wanted to take part in the tournament and enough people signed up to form five teams which were randomly drawn.

“We’ll even have 70-year-olds playing,” Sellars said ahead of the tournament, noting he was also playing with his first game scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday morning. “It won’t be too competitive.”

The sign was made from wood by community member Joey Alphonse at the Sugar Cane Operations and Maintenance Shop.

In 2017, Byron spoke with the Grandstand when WLFN received a $90,000 investment through the Toronto Blue Jays Care Foundation and local support to upgrade the ball diamond. At the time, he said having a thriving sports community can be a big deterrent to keeping young people out of trouble.

“The most important thing is to try to keep the kids out of town all the time,” he said. “A lot of them are also comfortable with electronics. Trying to upgrade the field and being able to use it for something other than baseball is something that was envisioned when all the work started a few years ago, so hopefully that can all be followed up as well.

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