Waneek Horn-Miller, Valerie Jerome, Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth. What do these 4 ladies have in common? One, they're all amazing athletes and two, they're all inspiring individuals.
It just so happens that each of them are First Nations, Aboriginal or black skinned, but that doesn't matter, that does not make them any different from other people out there. This is what Waneek was trying to say in her speech last night. She talked about how she had to work 150% harder than any other athlete just to make the Olympic team. She said that every practice was a trial, and she always had to be on her best game. This is true for any other athlete too, it's just that people were harder on Waneek because of the colour of her skin. The Firth sisters kept making jokes about how Waneek chose the wrong sport. In water polo you are judged on how good you are, and it is a personal preference who is the best, but in cross country skiing, your skin colour is not a factor because you are being judged only by a intricate little instrument which cannot see the colour of your skin.
For Waneek Horn-Miller sports have been a way of proving athleticism for her entire race; proving that First Nations people are just as talented as everybody else. She repeated multiple times that sports saved her life. She believes that if her mother had not got her involved with sports she would not be in a good place right now.
After listening to Waneek last night, I was so inspired. She stated that you do not have to be an Olympian to benefit from sports, and that is so true to my life. I have made some of my closest friends through sports, I have found what I love to do, and I have learned a sense of teamwork, dedication and determination. Waneek was saying that the most successful people in the world usually played sports in their childhood because sport teaches you how to work well with others.
At the time of Waneek's childhood, not a lot of First Nations were involved in sport and she was one of the first to start the trend. She said with so much pride that sport is now a huge part of the Aboriginal culture. She said it brought tears to her eyes when she saw the First Nations portion of the Opening Ceremonies. To think back to when she was a kid, and how they were not accepted on sports teams or even in society, and now they are showcasing their art and culture at the largest sporting event in the world.
One main thing Waneek emphasized was that when you're out on the playing field, on the ice, or on the track, it no longer matters what race you come from, you are now just athletes and teammates. This is why Waneek encourages all parents to start their kids off in sports at a young age, because the younger your kids are introduced to multi-culturalism the more accepting they will be. Waneek is soon to be a mother herself, and she said the day her child can walk, they will be involved in sport.