Skip to content

Tofino surf prodigy wins bid for citizenship and will represent Canada

Erin Brooks, 16, is considered a medal threat for this summer’s 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Teenage surfer Erin Brooks won silver at the World Surfing games last June. DOM DOMIC, SURF CANADA

A Tofino family is celebrating a decision that could alter the trajectory of Canadian surfing from this summer at the Paris Olympics through the 2028 Los Angeles and 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

Erin Brooks, a 16-year-old sensation described as a prodigy and considered the next big thing in surfing, has won her battle to obtain Canadian citizenship and is now eligible to represent Canada.

“She [Brooks] is fireworks. She is excellence,” said Dom Domic of Victoria, the high-performance and executive director for Victoria-based Surf Canada. “She is so far beyond her peer group that she is challenging the top veterans. She is just that good. We are super stoked to have her competing for Canada.”

Brooks’ paternal grandfather was born and raised in Montreal and her father, Jeff, is a dual Canadian-American citizen who was born in Texas and lived in Hawaii, where Erin was born. The family has been based in Tofino, the spiritual and physical home of Canadian surfing, for a couple of years and began the process of gaining dual citizenship for Erin.

The request for citizenship became a labyrinth and was initially denied. But, according to Canadian Press, immigration minister Marc Miller ruled last month that it is unconstitutional for Canada to deny citizenship to the offspring of foreign-born Canadians.

“If they had known how hard it was going to be, the family would have started the process when she was a baby,” said Domic. “But this is a happy ending for herself and the family.”

Erin Brooks released a statement through her family: “I love Canada. I have never been prouder to wear the Maple Leaf. To Minister Marc Miller and [B.C. MP and NDP immigration critic] Jenny Kwan, you have changed my life. I believe that I will do something truly special for my country thanks to your gift of citizenship.”

Although only a teen, Brooks is considered a medal threat for this summer’s 2024 Olympics in Paris. Since she was not yet a citizen, she missed the first qualifier for Paris at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Brooks can qualify for the Paris Games through the last-chance Olympic qualifier next month in Puerto Rico. She was the 2022 world junior champion and the silver medallist last year against competitors many years older at the World Surfing Games in El Salvador.

Sanoa Dempfle-Olin of Tofino, 18, became the first Canadian to qualify for the Olympic Games by winning the silver medal in the Santiago Pan Am Games in October. Sister Mathea Dempfle-Olin, 20, of Tofino is also heralded and will be joining Brooks at the Paris Olympics qualifier next month in Puerto Rico.

“We have the potential to have three young Canadian women surfers in the Olympics this year,” said Domic. “We have such a fantastic young team, with surfers who have so much athletic life ahead of them, that they could be heard from through to Brisbane in 2032.”

The surfing competition of the Paris Olympics will take place in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, in July on the legendary waves known as the Wall of Skulls.

— With files from Canadian Press

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks