John Lyall is a proud husband and father of three daughters, is a Kwakwaka’wakw artist and an enthusiastic sportsperson. His Kwakwala name is Mupenkin of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation of Vancouver Island in BC.
Lyall has been a lifelong rugby player, coach and now administrator, playing for the Velox Valhallians (Westshore), University of Victoria Vikes, Vancouver Island Crimson Tide and the Canadian Classics. He has been lucky to have played against and with some of Canada’s best.
Lyall is currently the president of the Vancouver Island Rugby Union (2014 – present). Thunder Rugby was formed in 2013 under the direction of Lyall, Directors Phil Mack (Toquaht), Bobby Ross (Songhees), and Mark Bryant. Thunder Rugby’s goals are:
To promote the game of rugby to Indigenous athletes and communities throughout Canada
• To promote core values of rugby of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship;
• To have Indigenous culture play a greater role in the development of rugby in Canada; and,
• To identify potential high-performance Indigenous athletes that could one day represent BC and Canada.
Rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, and sportsmanship resonate with those of Indigenous communities; they are also traits that defined Lyall as a young man and player throughout his life, and now as coach and leader.
Thunder Rugby has undertaken the responsibility of touring to California in August of 2022 and New Zealand in August 2023. These have been enormous and rewarding undertakings. Thunder Rugby used the “Four R’s of Indigenous Ways of Knowing” to guide us on our tours including: Respect to yourself and the Thunder program; Responsibility to your school, your community and your ancestors; Relationships and positive relationships with your coaches, your teammates, and your opposition; and finally, Resiliency: you need to find that well of inner strength to tour and play rugby, you have to be brave to play rugby, and that is what Thunder asked our youth to be.
Lyall has been very fortunate to have the opportunity to play and lead in this great sport. For him, it has been a brotherhood for life; it is the embodiment of the Kwakwaka’wakw philosophy of “Num’way’ut, or We are All One”.