The question of membership has caused a divide in Waneek Horn-Miller’s home community of Kahnawake, the former Olympian told an audience at Brock recently.
Horn-Miller, a sports commentator and Pan-Am Games gold medalist in water polo, was a guest speaker at Brock’s sixth annual Aboriginal Women’s Day event March 18. She and her non-Native husband are featured in the film Club Native, which chronicles the thorny question of membership on a reserve near Montreal that aims to preserve its identity. Club Native was also screened at the event.
Letters were sent to about 25 non-Native Kahnawake residents in February telling them to leave the territory. Letter recipients included a teacher and man who operates a long-time Tae Kwan Do school, she said.
“These are people with serious ties to the community,” she said.
The issue of membership started with the federal government’s Indian Act, which overthrew traditional Aboriginal concepts of membership and imposed colonial ones. Horn-Miller said she has proposed compromises to her band administration.
Band council has since decided to hold public hearings on the issue.
Horn-Miller is co-ordinator of the First People’s House at McGill University. Other guest speakers at the Aboriginal Women’s Day event included Toronto Aboriginal filmmaker Judith Schuyler and Jackie Labonte, University Aboriginal cultural advisor and healing and wellness co-ordinator at Fort Erie Friendship Centre.
The event also featured Maadjii Maadzii on woman’s hand drum and the traditional big drum group Ohnia:kara:. Club Native was also screened.
About 40 people attended the day-long event at Pond Inlet, which was sponsored by Aboriginal Student Services.