Whiteye On A Journey Of Personal Discovery
That process happened only recently at Brock University, where she studies business, and plays for the Brock Badgers women’s hockey team.
“My heritage and culture mean the world to me – and I have Brock to thank for that,” says Whiteye.
“I took an Indigenous Spirituality class in which I discovered my need and want to learn more about my heritage and culture. Even so much that I have decided to minor in Indigenous Studies. The more I learn about Indigenous history, the more intrigued I have become in learning about it.”
According to Whiteye, she didn’t grow up learning about Indigenous teachings, but now that she has started learning, she’s not ready to stop.
“I did not grow up in a traditional family where indigenous teaching were taught – I am happy that I have decided to discover it on my own. Each day I struggle with events such as residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), and the effects past events have on our communities today. I find every chance to turn my school assignments into topics related to Indigenous communities. Personally, my culture and heritage is still in the process of being discovered.”
At times in her life, Whiteye has been able to mix sports and her Indigenous roots, through events like the Little NHL, and National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. She hopes other young Indigenous girls can see that anything is possible when they look at her success.
“When other young Indigenous girls see me playing, I hope they see it is possible for them too. I remember playing at both LNHL and NAHC thinking, how cool it was to be a part of an all Indigenous women’s hockey team. These events are truly amazing in the promotion of both Indigenous and girl’s hockey. I would like to encourage more Indigenous athletes, in general, to participate in sport.”
While success has met Whiteye at many levels, it hasn’t come without challenges, including in her transition to University life at Brock.
Whiteye says that much of the support she needed was readily available on campus from Brock Sports and Aboriginal Student Services, and she encourages other Indigenous athletes who might feel nervous about leaving home, that most campuses have supports available.
A talented student-athlete, Whiteye herself struggled during her first year at Brock, until she found the supports needed, and found a healthier balance.
Playing hockey at Brock is a unique and life changing experience,” said Whiteye. “During my first semester at Brock, I had what felt like a million setbacks. Whether it wasn’t performing to my expectations or achieving off-ice standards or most importantly, achieving the grades I desired. My whole life changed and only revolved around hockey. Some might say, “well isn’t that what you wanted?” but, I wasn’t prepared. It wasn’t until my second year I started to really discover my love for playing hockey at Brock University – through the constant pushes from the coaching staff and the mentorship of upper year players, I was able to establish a routine and good habits. I learned the importance of time management, organization, and support.”
In particular, Whiteye is thankful for meeting such an incredible group of athletes, her teammates.
“A special shout out would be to my teammates; they have made each and every year better than the last! Playing hockey at Brock has truly changed my life.”
In recognition of National Indigenous History Month, we’d like to say thank you to Katreena Whiteye, and we wish her continued success on her journey of discovery.