Hannah Morningstar, 16, who’s competing in javelin and discus at the 2017 North American #Indigenous Games, smiles during an interview in the CBC Radio studios. (CBC) Cameron Perrier Cameron Perrier is a Métis multimedia journalist from Calgary, Alta. He joins CBC as one of the 2016 Joan Donaldson Scholars, aiming to widen his breadth of storytelling skills and bring the voices of Indigenous people in Canada into mainstream media.
When Hannah Morningstar has her hair in a braid, she says it’s her good-luck charm.
The 16-year-old from the Atikameksheng #First Nation in northern Ontario will need all the luck her braid brings as she heads to Toronto to compete in javelin and discus at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), which will take place July 16-22 in and around the city. Sport in the family
Morningstar has been involved in sports since she could walk, competing in volleyball, tennis, flag football and hockey as a young girl.
At NAIG 2014 in Regina, Morningstar was billed to compete in long-distance running. But her aunts and uncles encouraged her to try javelin, offering to train her with their experience from their high-school days.
"I remember when I got the bronze medal for javelin at NAIG back in 2014, I called my auntie and she was so happy she started crying," she said. Mixing culture and sport
Morningstar considers her grandfather, who has been a chief and council member of the Atikameksheng First Nation, to be her biggest mentor. She recalls picking berries in the summer, going on walks in the bush and making split ash baskets, which is a traditional craft Morningstar says has been in her family for generations.
"My grandfather really has taught me a lot about being Anishinaabe and living off the land," she said.
Identifying as part of the Elk Clan, Morningstar also does traditional jingle dress dancing. Wearing a long-skirted dress covered in small metal cones, Morningstar steps to what she says sounds like river rapids or rushing water.
"You can tell someone your story, you can tell someone who you are through your dress, you can tell someone through the way you dance," she said. Ambassador for #reconciliation
Morningstar is also an official #Team88 ambassador for NAIG. It refers to the 88th Call to Action in the #Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, which recommends using sport as a platform for reconciliation through the development of Indigenous athletes.
For Morningstar, it’s a chance to show she’s proud of who she is.
"When I dance I feel proud, when I play sports I feel proud, and when I was at the NAIG … in 2014 I felt proud," she said.
It’s pride that Morningstar uses as a vehicle to forward the 88th Call to Action in her own life.
"I think it’s so important to not just sit there and wait for it to happen," she said, talking about reconciliation. "I can’t just expect someone else to do it."
And in not sitting there and waiting for reconciliation, Morningstar turns to the words of her grandfather."You need to be there for your people, you need to be healthy for your people, you need to be able to lead your people in a good way," she said."I’m trying really hard to be there for the youth in my community."
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