A Golden Secondary School student has been selected to carry the Olympic torch, as one of four representatives of Métis Youth in B.C.
Hanako Nagao will be carrying the torch in Invermere on Friday, January 22.
Nagao was selected to be a torchbearer after her writing mentor, Jaclyn Guest, submitted her name on her behalf. Guest was a one-time speaker at Nagao’s school, and the two have remained in contact ever since. Nagao was unaware that the application had been made.
“I was quite surprised when I found out that I would be carrying the torch. They even wanted me to go to Montreal as a Métis representative and travel across the country with the torch. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go because I would miss too much school,” says Nagao.
Nagao is a burgeoning young author with several publications to her name. She has written news articles for the Golden Star, as well as fiction pieces for Whispering Winds magazine. She also won an award from the Manitoba Writers Guild for a piece that explores her Métis culture.
Nagao is active within the local Métis association, and a member of a local Métis dance troupe. Once, during one provincial Métis conference, she played guitar in the traditional fiddle style for one thousand delegates. She even took part in a covered wagon trek along the trading route of her ancestors.
“Connecting with our native roots is a process that started with my mom and is working backwards,” says Nagao. “Gradually, my grandmother is becoming more aware of it too.”
Since reconnecting with her Metis roots, Nagao says she has met a tonne of people, including a new family friend that visits the house a few times a week to tell stories.
Nagao is also a catechism teacher, and a member of the church choir. She has a variety of hobbies, including skiing, hockey, swimming, dance, hiking and kayaking.
“I’m excited because carrying the torch is such a great opportunity,” says Nagao. “But, I’m a bit nervous as well. There’s a lot of stuff that can go wrong when you’re running down an icy street with your hands in the air.”
“My dad says I need to practice holding my hands up for five minutes at a time and carry something that is the same weight as the torch. I thought, maybe my cat would be good practice.”