COURA­GEOUS CHIEF

Bret Hart gets new hon­our

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHANIE BABYCH [email protected]­media.com Twit­ter: @Baby­chStephanie

Pro­fes­sional wrestling icon Bret (The Hit­man) Hart was hon­oured by Sik­sika El­der Mi­ik­sika’am with a Black­foot name mean­ing Coura­geous Chief dur­ing a smudg­ing cer­e­mony and face paint­ing Thurs­day.

Mem­bers of a drum group played their drums while singing a tra­di­tional song by a teepee at Mount Royal Univer­sity, as El­der Mi­ik­sika’am, or Clarence Wolf­leg Se­nior, of­fered Hart an ea­gle feather and his cho­sen name, Iyi­ik­i­tap­inna.

“I think it’s a great name,” said Hart. “It might be too bold a name for me ... It’s a huge hon­our for me. Grow­ing up here all my life, be­ing from Cal­gary, there’s a strong sen­si­tiv­ity to the strug­gles” of Indige­nous people.

Mi­ik­sika’am said he seeks the guid­ance of old war­riors when se­lect­ing a name for some­one. He said the names of­ten come to him in a dream or vi­sion.

“The name that I chose for Bret goes back to an old war­rior whose name was Iron Shield, not be­cause he had a shield of iron but his spirit was like iron,” said Mi­ik­sika’am. “I chose that ref­er­ence be­cause he was sur­rounded in battle ... So, I hon­our that great war­rior, but I will seek an ap­pro­pri­ate name just as pow­er­ful for Bret, Iyi­ik­i­tap­inna.”

The re­tired wrestler, who’s still re­garded as the best tech­ni­cal per­former to ever step into the ring, be­gan his ca­reer in the 1970s. He fol­lowed in the foot­steps of his fa­ther, Stu, a long­time wrestler him­self.

“I feel like I’m here rep­re­sent­ing the whole family and I know my fa­ther al­ways had a re­ally strong re­la­tion­ship with the First Na­tions com­mu­nity ... I know this day would have been special to him,” said Hart. “There’s al­ways been a warmth, friend­ship and kind of re­spect there.”

Hart said that al­though he’s won world ti­tles and had other hon­ours be­stowed upon him, this hon­our is one that goes right to his heart.

“This means so much to me, just be­ing a Cal­gar­ian and a Cana­dian,” said Hart.

Mi­ik­sika’am said Hart de­served the hon­our for his great achieve­ments and the ex­am­ple he sets to Indige­nous youth.

“For my­self, watch­ing him (on TV), I never would have thought in the fu­ture I would be pay­ing my re­spect to a great war­rior,” said Mi­ik­sika’am.

DAR­REN MAKOWICHUK

From left, Sik­sika coun­cil­lor Brad­ford Lit­tle Chief, Mount Royal Univer­sity hon­orary de­gree re­cip­i­ent Bret Hart, MRU pres­i­dent David Docherty, and El­der Mi­ik­sika’am, or Clarence Wolf­leg Se­nior, gath­ered at the Black­foot nam­ing cer­e­mony for Hart at the univer­sity on Thurs­day.

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