This National Indigenous History Month – and all year long – we celebrate the inspiring achievements of Special Olympics athletes across Canada with Indigenous heritage, including accomplished Special Olympics Manitoba athlete William Hart.
William is originally from The Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation but lives in Thompson, Manitoba. He and his twin sister Jemiha have both been Special Olympics since they were 7 years old. He started off with swimming, then went to figure skating, and most recently qualified for Special Olympics Team Canada 2022 for alpine skiing.
At the Special Olympics Team Canada 2022 Training Camp Weekend, William delivered a land acknowledgment and shared a message with his team members:
“I would like to share a special moment from the last 2 years. I realize many people – even people you don’t know – are supportive of Indigenous athletes. People want to see me achieve my dreams. While I was preparing for World Games, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee invited me to the Imperial Office and addressed me as a great Warrior. He stated ‘We believe in your dream, we believe in your vision, and we believe in your goal… you are truly a warrior and I am very proud of you.’ He wore a traditional headdress and presented me with a gift. I felt very special and proud to have my own First Nations people so supportive of me as I worked toward achieving my dreams as a member of Special Olympics Team Canada 2022. During the last two years, we have had many challenges. Each obstacle we have encountered made us better and stronger – no matter our race, culture, religion or who we are.”