In celebration of International Women’s Day, Alberni Valley News recognizes the women who make this community a better place to live.
International Women’s Day has special meaning for Christina Spence Proteau, a champion golfer and lawyer from Port Alberni. That day—March 8—in 2010 he started working as a prosecutor.
The achievement closed the lucrative cross from a golf phenomenon to a successful lawyer.
Proteau first earned a name for himself when he was a teenager, excelling on the golf course. He grew up spending weekends at the Alberni golf driving range with his father, an avid golfer. “I got into it when I was six years old, at the driving range. Until I was 12, it was something I did specifically with my dad.
“I totally accept it. It’s a challenging sport,” he said. “I loved team sports growing up, but golf, it’s all up to you. This is no excuse—you can work it out or not. If I play my best I will win and if I don’t then I won’t win.”
Proteau played in her first BC Women’s Amateur championship when she was 17, and has traveled throughout North America as a competitive golfer ever since. He has several Canadian and provincial championships to his name, and has also competed in the US Mid-Amateur championship.
Proteau’s path to law began when he was in elementary school. “My grandmother had hung the business card we had to make in Class 2 and I put my picture on it and it said ‘lawyer.’ I don’t even remember making it but he kept it.
“I’ve always loved reading and writing and debating, and it seemed like a natural fit,” he said. It was also the path to more golf: after returning to Canada after four years at the University of New Mexico, he studied law at the University of Victoria, where for two years he dominated Canadian college golf.
“I have vivid memories of training for citizens and then rushing back to study for the bar exam. For a while there my life was to study, play, study, play and then study more,” he told Athletics writer UVic Vikes.
In 2020 Proteau was inducted into the UVic Sports Hall of Fame for his achievements.
Proteau was called to the bar on 1 May 2009 after speaking with Badovinac, Scoffield and Mosley (now Ramsay Lampman Rhodes) in Port Alberni. He spent a year in general practice before joining Crown. He served as president of the Port Alberni Bar Association.
Since then he has found a way to balance his golf and legal career. He credits a number of mentors for helping him achieve his goals, both in the sport and professionally as a lawyer. Lawyer Joan Stirling helped her as she started her legal career.
“I have a steady stream of women (mentors). I can think of one teacher from elementary school I still keep in touch with,” as well as three professors from the English department at the University of New Mexico and his golf coach, Jill Trujillo. “I just spoke to him a few weeks ago.
“I own the entire Alberni women’s golf club raising me as an amateur,” as well as other golfers across the province. Jackie Little of Procter, BC, former co-owner of The Hollies Golf Club in Port Alberni, always challenges him to excel.
“When I was 17, I met Jackie Little and we played together in my first BC Women’s Amateur final. He is still my role model for professional golf. While he was staying here, I would go out for a bit and have tea and play golf. ”
The two reunited in Quebec last year when Proteau played in the 2021 women’s national amateur tournament: Little and Proteau played several practice rounds together.
Proteau believes in setting goals, planning for the future, and sharing those goals to hold oneself accountable. Sometimes goals aren’t achieved, “but when you reach them, it feels really good.”
She recently reached the second step in her golf career, after the sport took a bit of a backseat for the family (she is the mother of two young children). Last September she won the Mid-Amateur division at the 2021 Canadian Women’s Senior and Mid-Amateur golf championships in Bromont, Quebec. It was his first national win in seven years.
“I really trust you to shoot for the stars and if you don’t, you’re still going up high,” he said. “People have to dream big no matter where they come from. You have to plan for success every year… and don’t be afraid to fail.”
“Coffee aficionado nerd. Troublemaker. General communicator. Gamer. Analyst. Creator. Total brew ninja.”