The North American Indigenous Games is the largest continental sporting and cultural gathering of Indigenous people. This year from July 16 – 23rd, Toronto will host more than 5,000 athletes, 2,000 volunteers and a countless number of spectators and dignitaries from across North America. In celebration of the thousands of Indigenous women representing Canada on the ice, court, and field, we’re profiling a few young athletes who are proving what Canada’s Indigenous young women are capable of. Meet sisters Melody Horn.

 

 


 

 

My chosen sport is… Soccer, I’ve been playing since I was 6 years old.

 

I decided to pursue athletics because… Sports keep me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually well. Whenever I’m on the field, I don’t think about anything else but that moment. Just like my family, sports have always been there for me when I’m going through a rough time.

 

My proudest accomplishment is… Participating in the World Indigenous Games and on top of that winning gold in Brazil back in 2015 alongside my sister and the rest of team Canada. I never thought I would reach an international level at such a young age.

 

Participating in the NAIG is important to me because… Whoever is chosen for their respective sports is chosen to represent their own indigenous culture and is showcasing themselves in their respective sport. It’s an honor to be able to share my culture and to learn about other indigenous cultures, meet people from different parts of North America and to be able to go to such a big event for the sport that I’ve worked hard on all my life.

 

I surprise people when I tell them… I had a baby in December of 2016. I often have people tell me that it doesn’t look like I had one.

 

My best advice from a coach was… “Focus on your own game, don’t worry about the other people or anything else”. It stuck in my head because many times if an opposing player would start getting physical, I would do it back or if they say derogatory words towards me I would say something back. I eventually learned to keep to myself and not do anything back. Instead, I would focus on my game and just use my skill against them because if you’re trying to think of anything negative to do back to them, you’re not focused on what you’re actually there for.

 

My biggest setback was… Failing my first ever college semester back in the fall of 2015 at Vanier College. I had asked my teachers a few weeks prior for any homework or assignments I’d be missing for the two weeks I was leaving for Brazil for the World Indigenous Games in October 2015, which then they told me I could do it all when I got back. When I got back from Brazil, it was already November and I only had a few weeks to finish almost 20 assignments I had missed. I was motivated and tried my best to get them all completed. I ended up completing all of them but I ended up failing 4/7 courses which put me way back. I was so discouraged I took the next semester off.

 

I overcame it by… Going back to school for the fall semester of 2017 at Dawson College! I’m so excited to be able to get a fresh start on my education.

 

I stay focused by… Thinking about why I’m there in the first place. I think about my goals and what I want to accomplish in my life.

 

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That being an athlete, you would figure that my inspiration would be another athlete, but other than my family, my other inspiration is the singer Russ Vitale, also known as Russ.

 

I stay inspired by… Listening to music, seeking competition, exercising and listening to other people’s stories.

 

The future excites me because… Since I have a daughter now, I can’t wait to teach her what life has to offer. I plan on teaching her how to play soccer too but in the end, if she chooses to play a different sport, I will support her all the way.

 

I want to show the world that… The key to being successful is to keep an open mind, find something that motivates you to follow your dreams and don’t give up. You’ll face many challenges but in the end, it’ll be worth it.

 

My next step is… Go to college with high expectations, continue to play soccer until I physically can’t anymore and along the way teach my daughter everything there is to know involving sports with the help of my sister Lylee.

 

Meet Bailey Thomas, another indigenous athlete who’ll be hitting the ice at this year’s North American Indigenous Games.