Although Waneek Horn-Miller is young, she is an inspiration and role model to many, with several achievements to her credit already. She was born in Kahnawake, Quebec, and bears her Mohawk ancestry and heritage as a "medal of honour". She has earned this reputation because, throughout her athletic career, she has been well known for being outspoken about her Native heritage.
Waneek is the second youngest of four daughters and has always been athletic. She has been described as "strong-boned and equally strong-willed". Having an early start as a competitive swimmer at the age of seven (she competed in various swim meets from 1982 through 1997), she developed the skills required to become a world-class water polo player and co-captain of the Canadian Senior Women's water polo team.
But life for Waneek has not just been a series of sporting competitions. She first made headlines when she was involved, at age 14, in the Oka crisis in the summer of 1990. She was stabbed in the chest by a soldier's bayonet. The wound was mitigated because the bayonet blade was deflected off her sternum but a serious scar remains. As frightening and hurtful as this event was, Waneek overcame her bitterness towards non-Native people with the support of family (especially her mother, Kahn-Tineta Horn) and friends in an effort to make something of her life. Her determination and winning attitude is evident in the following quote: "I could've become really racist and done nothing with that experience. I could've really isolated myself, but I went through Oka for a reason and I decided not to let it hinder me; I'm going to let it do something for me" (Windspeaker, May 1996).
Perhaps this event, and her reasoning skills, were behind her decision to attend university. She graduated, in 2000, from Carleton University with a B.A. in Political Science. While pursuing her post-secondary education, she played water polo for the university's women's team and is in the record books at Carleton as the first woman to be named Athlete of the Year, three consecutive times.
Other accomplishments include:
In addition, Waneek may be the first Mohawk woman from Canada to take part in the Olympics. However, she also admits that she has received much advice and support regarding high-level sports from another Kahnawake resident and hero, Alwyn Morris, gold medal winner for kayaking (1000-metre race, with teammate Hugh Fisher of B.C.) at the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Although Waneek spends at least 25 hours per week training for the National Senior women's water polo team, she also has a part-time job with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). She hosts a show called First Music and Arts, currently a weekly half-hour program.
As a tribute to her Mohawk heritage, Waneek has also discussed the personal power she has drawn from it. "The Native concept of power is how much you can empower people around you. You bring them up to your level, you make them feel good, you make them feel strong, you make them feel confident ...." (The Toronto Star, July 29, 1999). No doubt her confidence, strength, skills, and positive attitude will make us even more proud of her in the future as she works toward her next accomplishments.
1999 Sport Awards : Waneek Horn-Miller : waterpolo [online]. Slam! Sports: Canadian Sports Awards. [Cited June 16, 2000]. - Access: www.canoe.ca/CanadianSportAwards/horn_miller.html
"Alumna receives National Aboriginal Achievement Award". - Carleton University magazine. - (Spring, 2000). - P. 35
Cassoff, D. - "Horn-Miller can make history". - The Montreal gazette. - (May 22, 1999). P. G6
Horn, G. - "Waneek wins National Aboriginal Achievement Award" [online]. - The eastern door. - Vol. 9, no. 2 (Feb. 4, 1999). - [Cited June 16, 2000]. - Access: www.easterndoor.com/deer/9-02/9-02-1.htm
Starkman, R. - "From Oka battles to Pan Am glory". - The Toronto Star. - (July 29, 1999). - P. A1, A20
Waneek Horn Miller Youth Award [online]. - National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. - [Cited June 16, 2000]. - Access: www.naaf.ca/rec2000.html#7
Wong, C. - "Oka vet water polo national [online]". - Windspeaker. - (May 1996). - [Cited June 16, 2000]. - Access: www.ayn.ca/PAGES/oka.htm