Former Olympian calls for inquiry into amateur sport in Canada

Waneek Horn-Miller, a Mohawk from Kahnawake, Quebec, was co-captain of Canada’s first Olympic women’s water polo team and a gold medallist in water polo at the 1999 Pan American Games.

She is a well-known activist for Indigenous rights and a prominent role model, mentor and advocate for youth involvement in sports. The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity named her one of the country’s most influential women in sport in 2015.

Last Monday, December 12, the former Olympic athlete said she wants an inquiry into amateur sport in Canada to address systemic sexual, physical and verbal abuse of athletes.

In her testimony before the standing committee on the status of women, Horn-Miller discussed her role as a retired athlete and her recommendations for the committee, including that currently competing athletes cannot fight abuse within their sports. She explained that, like many athletes, she let the Olympic dream convince her to accept racial and verbal abuse she would not otherwise have tolerated.

Horn-Miller, who now coaches water polo, joined Water Polo Canada’s diversity task force in June of 2020 to help the organization’s efforts to fight systemic racism in sport.

In announcing Horn-Miller’s appointment, Water Polo Canada issued a public apology to her, acknowledging that she was compelled to leave the water polo team before the end of her athletic career.

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