Hanna Sault-Hartwick:

  • What is your name, and nation?

My name is Hanna Sault-Hartwick, and I am from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. I am the 2019 World Champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I am a warrior poet who believes in the balance of the pen and the sword. 

  • How were you introduced to sport as a youth? Where did your journey in sport begin?

I started with Karate when I was six years old in order to gain confidence. I made yellow belt, but decided the sport didn’t call to me. I knew Martial Arts was in my future, but I needed to find the right fit. 

  • Which sports have you participated in?

I played soccer when I was in elementary school for a few years. I have also done the teensiest bit of gymnastics when I was 4 years old. I started Karate when I was 6 years old, and trained for a year. At the age of 8, I found Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and have practiced the Martial Art ever since. Jiu Jitsu is my main sport, which I compete in, but at 12 years old, I started training Muay Thai and MMA to understand self-defence through the perspective of punches. Martial Arts has been a huge part of my life, and as I’ve grown in the sport, I’ve grown as a person as well. 

  • Were you integrated in both indigenous and mainstream sport? 

I did not realize that Indigenous sport was an option until I was sixteen. Unfortunately, most Martial Arts don’t have a pathway in Indigenous sport. 

  • Who is your biggest role model/hero?

I take inspiration from many different sources, because I believe it’s important to be open to wisdom from all places. Athletes in MMA who remain graceful and respectful after showing dedication and devastating skill, or even losing, illustrate my sport philosophy. I also love poets who challenge the reader to think, but also to live and to love. 

  • Have you ever been to NAIG?

No, I have not. Unfortunately Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not recognized with a Provincial Sport Organization. 

  • How has your Indigenous heritage influenced you as an athlete and a person?

As an indigenous person, I have had to fight past inter-generational trauma. By learning the process of fighting, it has shaped me to persevere through all things. You don’t give up in a Martial Art. Sometimes you are slammed into a wall, or pushed to the ground, but each time, you take a deep breath, and fight. The same goes with life—whatever comes your way, you must own your warrior spirit, and keep going. 

  • What would you like to see in the Okanagan with regards to sport and reconciliation? 

Mainstream awareness is important when it comes to Indigenous sport in the Okanagan. Reconciliation begins with non-indigenous people being aware of programs for Indigenous athletes, but also supporting those programs. Without that knowledge, there’s fewer Indigenous athletes who realize that Indigenous sport is an option. Through awareness comes more support and community, and that equals more opportunities and inclusion for Indigenous athletes. 

  • What does your future look like? What are your aspirations in sport and life?

This year I graduated from the Canadian Sports School Kelowna, which is an excellent and supportive program for both athletics and academics. Due to the preparation from the program, I am ready for College and University. The next step for me in sport involves coaching, as well as competing in another high-level tournament. A goal of mine has always been to teach Self-Defence Seminars on reserves, particularly to Indigenous Youth, and Indigenous females.