FROM OKA TO THE OLYMPICS Native Women in the Arts presents a talk by Mohawk activist Waneek Horn-Miller, today (Thursday, March 29), 6:30 pm, in the NOW Lounge (189 Church). $5. 416-364-1301. Rating: NNNNN
Horn-Miller was a participant in the 1990 Oka standoff at age 14, along with her famous ex-model mother, Kahn-Tineta Horn. A former Olympic water polo player, she now runs the First Peoples House at McGill University.
WHAT NATIVE ISSUE TOPS YOUR AGENDA? "Fifty per cent of our population is under 21. We were in survival mode for so long, but now we have to thrive. I don't think diabetes should be part of our identity. Neither should being poor, living in substandard conditions or being uneducated. A lot of young people want to change this. People don't realize that in 30 to 50 years, five provinces and territories will be majority native. That hasn't been true since contact."
WHAT MEMORIES LINGER FROM OKA? "It was incredibly traumatic. I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but I basically self-medicated with my sport. After Oka, life got very hectic and complicated, and the one place I could just be me was at water polo practice. It was a stress reliever. It was a suicide preventer. It was everything for me."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CALEDONIA OCCUPATION? "The Canadian population - I learned this during Oka - is not being taught the real history of Canada. This is a disservice to [non-native] children, because they wake up one morning and there's a blockade and they say, What the heck?' They don't realize this conflict is hundreds of years old. These were international agreements with the Iroquois. If the Iroquois hadn't been there, Canada would be part of the United States."
NATIVE STEREOTYPE YOU HATE THE MOST? "That we're lazy, that we get things for free, that we're quitters. When my sister was in medical school, people would say to her, Oh, you just got there because you're native.' It's like being substandard."
FAVOURITE FILM ABOUT ABORIGINAL PEOPLE? "Running Brave, the story of Billy Mills. He was Sioux from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and won a gold medal at Tokyo in 1964. I was nine when I saw the film, and it was the first time in my life I realized that someone like me could be the best in the world."
FAVOURITE FIRST NATION ENTERTAINER? "Blues guitarist George Leach. He's awesome. He lives in Toronto."
FAVE T.O. EATERY? "I used to play water polo tournaments at U of T, and I loved the food at Noah's on Bloor. My mother raised me, oddly, on stuff outside the native norm, like tofu. Let me tell you, as an adult I say thank the Lord."