Bret Hart gets new honour
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.
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.