July 14th, 2024

Indigenous advocate, Olympian receives honourary doctorate


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on June 4, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Honorary Doctor of Laws recipient Waneek Horn-Miller speaks at the University of Lethbridge's morning convocation ceremony on Friday. Two ceremonies concluded three days of convocation events at the U of L which had online ceremonies the previous two years because of COVID-19 restrictions.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

She survived being stabbed by the bayonet of a soldier at the standoff during the Oka crisis in Ontario and later became the captain of Canada’s water polo team at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Now Waneek Horn-Miller has been bestowed with an honourary Doctor of Laws by the University of Lethbridge in recognition of the perseverance she has shown.
Horn-Miller was one of the speakers at Friday morning’s convocation ceremony, one of two on the day to close out the U of L’s three-day graduation events.
“The trauma she suffered early in her life could have stopped her from pursuing her dreams, but she persevered, both physically and mentally, and has continued to impact Canadian society in positive and productive ways. These graduating classes have had to endure very difficult times and have faced adversity with a dedication that will benefit them well in the future. I am very pleased to welcome Waneek to our University and thrilled she has accepted our offer of an honourary degree,” said chancellor Charles Weaselhead in a statement.
In 1990, Horn-Miller was a 14-year-old teen when she was leading her four-year-old sister from behind the lines when she was stabbed. The incident shook her so badly she considered giving up on her Olympic dreams, but her mother told her she would be giving that dream away to the soldier who assaulted her.
In 1999, she was a member of the first Canadian water polo team to win gold at the Pan-Am Games.
After leaving competitive sport, she became host of APTN’s coverage of the 2010 Olympics and was assistant chef de mission at the Pan-Am Games in Toronto in 2015. She has over the years become a respected public speaker on the topics of following dreams, sport and reconciliation.
Horn-Miller has worked on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls, the IndigenACTION initiative of the Assembly of First Nations and is a passionate advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples, education and athletes as well as diversity and inclusion in sports.
“Waneek Horn-Miller embodies so much of what we teach our students here at the university,” said Weaselhead in his statement.
In her address Friday, she talked to students about the challenges they faced attending university during a pandemic, dealing with isolation and online studies.
“We went from the occasional Skype conversation with friends to 10 plus platforms online,” she told graduates.
Horn-Miller said despite the obstacles they faced in their quest to earn an education, “something inside of you said ‘I’m not going to quit.'”
She said she was “incredibly honoured” to have the honourary degree bestowed upon her.
“This is something I will carry” with her throughout her life, Horn-Miller told the gathering.

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