Young, frank, and hopeful, Waneek Horn-Miller has overcome discrimination, self-doubt, and an infamous incident of violence to emerge as one of North America’s most inspiring Indigenous speakers. With purpose and poise, she traverses the intersection of two generations of Native people, working to mend—finally—the dysfunctional relationship between Native and non-Native communities through social and political change.
Waneek Horn-Miller, a Mohawk from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal, was behind the lines during the Oka crisis, in 1990, when she was stabbed by a Canadian soldier’s bayonet. This near-death experience marked a turning point in her life. Instead of recoiling, she came back stronger than ever. In 2000, she appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, in her role as co-captain of Canada’s Olympic women’s water polo team. More recently, Horn-Miller has worked to attract Aboriginal youth to higher education by building self-esteem and emphasizing a balance between education and sports.
Horn-Miller was the Assistant Chef de Mission for Team Canada at the 2015 Pan Am Games. She also teamed up with the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network and health experts to launch a fitness and healthy-eating initiative called Working It Out Together, which follows six Mohawks on their pursuit of better health. She is also an ambassador for Manitobah Mukluks, the world-famous Canadian Aboriginal footwear brand that has been worn by Kate Moss, Jessica Biel, and Megan Fox. She was recently named one of Canada’s most influential women in sport by the Canadian Association for Advancement of Women and Sport.
“I have to say we were beyond thrilled with Waneek. She was everything we expected and more. We had a small group, 100 people but there was not a single person who wasn’t completely focused on her story and the journey she spoke about. I would recommend Waneek to anyone who is thinking about booking her, she was fantastic.”Algoma Family Services Foundation
“Waneek was an absolute hit with our students (and staff and faculty!). She was definitely the highlight of the event for many students. She hit all the right notes for us, connected her core message with our theme in a beautiful way that was exactly what we wanted to convey to our students. She talked about Aboriginal issues, a topic that many students and staff do not feel confident or comfortable speaking about, in a way that was relatable and comfortable and I firmly believe she’s paved the way for many students to feel more comfortable learning more about and engaging in discussion around Aboriginal issues. I’ve had so many students and staff tell me that she was the best keynote they’d ever seen. I would definitely have to agree. Our First Nations Studies Program students were absolutely thrilled to have lunch with her. One student thanked our committee saying that meeting Waneek was the highlight of her life so far. This lunch meant quite a lot to our department as well. It helped us forge better relationships with other units on campus and helped us delve more into Aboriginal issues. At our reception after the conference, there was constantly a line up of students waiting to talk to her. She was incredibly personable and generous with her time. On a personal note, I got to spend some time with Waneek backstage. She was absolutely lovely and has an incredible gift for making others feel like they are part of her family. I feel so very lucky to have spent time with her and I know everyone else who got the opportunity feels the same way. Please pass on our deepest thanks to Waneek and thank you for your work in putting all of this together. It’s been so easy to work with you and the Lavin Agency this year.”University of British Columbia
Suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome after being stabbed during the Oka stand-off, Waneek Horn-Miller could have recoiled from life. Instead, she embraced it like never before. On stage, she traces the powerful journey she took from beleaguered youth to star Olympic athlete to one of the most articulate and vibrant voices in Aboriginal culture today. A model of perseverance, good-natured humor, and preternatural wisdom, Horn-Miller inspires audiences to follow their own dreams, fight for their heritage, and achieve their full potential in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
First Nations Rights
“The Canadian public doesn’t want to hand down to their children this dysfunctional relationship between Canadian culture and Aboriginal people,” says Waneek Horn-Miller. In this talk, she deftly navigates the complicated past and increasingly bright future of First Nations issues. Bringing us face-to-face with a new generation of Native youth, she shows us how a polyphony of Aboriginal voices are participating fully in the democratic process, building bridges to the non-native community, and—thanks to the rise of social media—contributing like never before to their shared future, while celebrating their rich cultural past. “To make the big change in Aboriginal culture,” she says, “there’s going to have to be a concerted effort from the non-native side and from our side. I think now is the time. It’s the perfect storm.”
Working it Out Together
As the host of Working it Out Together—a documentary series that follows eight First Nations people on a journey to reclaim their vitality through health, wellness, and fitness—Waneek Horn-Miller is dedicated to helping others find balance. In this talk, she addresses nearly every issue related to wellness: obesity, eating disorders, low self-esteem, busy schedules, substance abuse, lack of motivation, and more. A former Olympic athlete who has been living a high-performance lifestyle since childhood, she takes her audiences on a voyage of self-discovery, determination, and sacrifice that can transform their lives for the better and prove anything is possible.