In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Alberni Valley News is recognizing the women who make this community a better place to live.
International Women’s Day holds special significance for Christina Spence Proteau, a champion golfer and lawyer from Port Alberni. It was that day—March 8— in 2010 that she began working as a Crown prosecutor.
The achievement capped a rewarding crossover from golf phenom to successful lawyer.
Proteau first earned a name for herself when she was a teenager, excelling on the golf course. She grew up spending weekends at the Alberni Golf Course driving range with her father, an avid golfer. “I got into it when I was six, at the driving range. Until I was 12 it was something I specifically did with my Dad.
“I really took to it. It’s such a challenging sport,” she said. “I loved team sports growing up but golf, it’s all on you. It’s no excuses—you either get it done or you don’t. If I play my best I’m going to win and if I don’t then I won’t win.”
Proteau played in her first B.C. Women’s Amateur championship when she was 17, and has travelled all over North America as a competitive golfer ever since. She has multiple Canadian and provincial championships to her name, and has also competed in the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship.
Proteau’s path toward law began when she was in elementary school. “My grandmother had hung onto this business card we had to make in Grade 2 and I put my picture on it and it said ‘lawyer.’ I didn’t even remember making it but she kept it.
“I always liked reading and writing and debating, and it seemed a natural fit,” she said. It was also a pathway toward more golf: after returning to Canada following four years at the University of New Mexico she studied law at the University of Victoria, where for two years she dominated Canadian collegiate golf.
“I have vivid memories of training for nationals and then rushing back to study for the bar exam. For a while there my life was study, play, study, play and then more studying,” she told a UVic Vikes Athletics writer.
In 2020 Proteau was named to the UVic Sports Hall of Fame for her accomplishments.
Proteau was called to the bar on May 1, 2009 after articling with Badovinac, Scoffield and Mosley (now Ramsay Lampman Rhodes) in Port Alberni. She spent one year in general practice before joining the Crown. She serves as president of the Port Alberni Bar Association.
Since then she has found a way to balance her golf and law careers. She credits a number of mentors for helping her achieve her goals, both in sports and professionally as a lawyer. Attorney Joan Stirling helped her as she began her law career.
“I’ve had 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 her golf coach, Jill Trujillo. “I just spoke with her a few weeks ago.
“I had a whole Alberni ladies’ golf club raising me up as an amateur,” as well as other golfers around the province. Jackie Little of Procter, B.C., former co-owner of The Hollies Golf Club in Port Alberni, has always challenged her to excel.
“When I was 17 I met Jackie Little and we played together in the last round of my first B.C. Women’s Amateur. She is still my role model for professional golf. When she lived here I would go over quite a bit and have a cup of tea and play some golf.”
The two were reunited in Quebec last year when Proteau played at the 2021 women’s national mid-amateur tournament: Little and Proteau played some practice rounds together.
Proteau believes in setting goals, planning for the future, and sharing those goals to hold oneself accountable. Sometimes goals aren’t met, “but when you do reach them it feels awfully good.”
She recently hit her second stride in her golf career, after the sport took a bit of a back seat to family (she is the mother of two young children). Last September she won the Mid-Amateur division at the 2021 Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur and Senior golf championship in Bromont, Quebec. It was her first national win in seven years.
“I’m a big believer in you shoot for the stars and if you don’t hit it you’re still going to be up high,” she said. “People should dream big no matter where they’re from. You should plan for success every year…and don’t be afraid to fail.”