Desiree Isaac-Pictou, from Ugpi'ganjig, Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick, will be off to Santiago, Chile, in November with Team Canada's wheelchair basketball team for the Parapan American Games.
The games, slated to run Nov. 17-24, will be the first time she has played for the senior women's team.
"I'm just super honoured because I'll be able to tag along with these girls that are going to be able to teach me so much," said Isaac-Pictou, 23, from her community about 250 kilometres north of Moncton.
She's played wheelchair basketball for close to two years but said she still feels new to the sport. In 2020 she was involved in an accident, leading to a double leg amputation.
She's already represented Team Canada on the court elsewhere; Isaac-Pictou played at the 2023 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship in Bangkok, Thailand, earlier this month for the under-25 team.
Desiree Isaac-Pictou was selected for Team Canada's senior women's wheelchair basketball team at the Parapan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 17-23. (SA Images/IWBF)
"I got to play with players that I would have never played with before because they're all from across the country and I've developed friendships with them and I'm still very connected with them," said Isaac-Pictou.
She said she's grateful to create new experiences with young women who are also dealing with disabilities — something she said she doesn't get many opportunities to do at home.
LISTEN | Desiree Isaac-Pictou explains what it means to play for Team Canada:
She trains roughly eight hours a week.
Clary Stubbert, her coach from Parasport New Brunswick, the provincial governing body for inclusive sport, said he's amazed at her skill level. He's been training wheelchair basketball athletes for over a decade and said Isaac-Pictou picked up the sport quickly.
Wheelchair basketball coach Clary Stubbert and athlete Desiree Isaac-Pictou. (submitted by Desiree Isaac-Pictou)
"For somebody who has really just come out of a very traumatic experience with her injury and only being a few years ago, there's such a positive attitude," said Stubbert.
"It's a lot of fun to play with her and she's quite determined."
Stubbert said one of the biggest challenges they face as parasport athletes is having to travel hours at a time for adequate gym space — but in all the times they've worked together he's never seen Isaac-Pictou angry.
The Parapan Am Games are a qualifier for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games; one spot from the men's and women's division is open to Parapan Am winners.