Mother, Olympian, Activist, and Speaker on Indigenous Health and Reconciliation
Waneek Horn-Miller has overcome discrimination and trauma to emerge as one of North America’s most inspiring activists and Olympians, making her one of Canada’s most inspiring figures. From her iconic TIME cover to her key role in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, she empowers our communities to overcome adversity, and helps us turn reconciliation—justice, healing, and dialogue—into a cornerstone of our national institutions.
During the Oka Crisis, at the age of 14, Waneek protested the planned development of condos and a golf course on traditional Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) lands and burial grounds. After nearly 80 days of stand-off with the RCMP and armed forces, she was stabbed in the chest by a Canadian soldier wielding a bayonet. The image of her wounded, holding her young sister, was shared across national media—and further galvanized Canadians to better understand, and care about, Indigenous issues. Instead of succumbing to very real traumas, including PTSD, she found the strength and resilience to pursue, and achieve, incredible things.
One of Horn-Miller’s greatest achievements has been in physical activity. Waneek was the first woman to be named Carleton University’s Athlete of the Year, first Mohawk woman from Canada to compete in the Olympics, a Pan Am gold medalist in Women’s Water Polo, torchbearer for the Winter Olympics in Turin, and has been named one of Canada’s most influential women in sport by CAAWS.
“In the Native world, physical activity is more than just physically activity - it’s a suicide preventer, a self-esteem creator, and a leadership developer.”
After her retirement as an athlete, she has gone on to help others achieve in sports and lead healthy, balanced lifestyles, including host of Working It Out Together, a 13-part documentary and healthy-eating initiative to build “an Indigenous movement of positive change” and “features dynamic leaders in health advocacy and courageous men and women who are figuring out what it takes to be well and to thrive.”
R. Tait McKenzie Scholar Address
Dr. Sandra Gibbons
Dr. Sandra Gibbons is a Professor in the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education at the University of Victoria. She joined U Vic as a faculty member in 1992 and currently teaches Physical Education methods courses and several graduate courses in the Master of Coaching Studies program. Prior to joining the Faculty at U Vic, Sandy held faculty positions at Queen’s University and Acadia University. Sandy has served on the Board of Directors for PHE Canada and has served as editor of the PHEnex Journal since 2011.
Sandy holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta, and Master and Doctoral degrees from Washington State and University of Oregon respectively. She started her teaching career in Burns Lake BC, where she taught PE at Lakes District Secondary for several years.
Sandy’s general area of study is in the field of school-based physical education pedagogy – with primary emphasis on curriculum content and instructional design. Specifically, her research focuses on design of physical education programs in schools to address the physical activity interests of girls and young women. Her research on program design helps physical education teachers incorporate a variety of factors into their programs that will keep more girls actively engaged. By and large, Sandy’s research contributes to both the immediate and long-term health of girls and young women by helping them develop positive physical activity behaviours.