Swimmer Apollo Hess 1st member of Blood Tribe to go to Olympics

On CBC Morning Live, we're doing our very best to introduce you to as many Olympic athletes as we can before they get to Paris to compete for Team Canada. And that is Apollo Hess getting his boarding pass for Paris and he'll be on the swim team for Team Canada competing in the 100 meter breaststroke. Look who's with me this morning from Vancouver where he is competing. Good morning, Apollo Hess. Good morning. Hey, congratulations, Olympian. How does that sound? Thank you. Still sounds sounds crazy to me, but yeah, yeah, just sounds crazy. Well, wear it well, because you've got a few weeks to get ready, but you're going to have to get used to it because you're going to be taking part for Team Canada. I want to talk about your journey, Apollo. It's such an incredible story. How did you get into competitive swimming, first of all? Well, Long story short, like I, I participated in lots of different sports when I was younger. I played hockey, soccer, football, volleyball. I did cross country too. Yeah, I, I was in swim clubs since I was about 6:00, but never fully got into it until I was about 13. Yeah, I got I suffered a couple bad concussions from from football and hockey and that kind of led me to just switching over to like a non contact sport. And yeah, so I fully switched over when I was about 13. And can I ask you about something because I was reading and and following up some of the other interviews you've done and you talked about APTN, about those teams that you mentioned and something you said caught my attention that you had some trouble with the teams making teams and being cut from teams. Were there challenges along the way As for some of the team sports? Apollo Yeah, from my experience, I just, I felt like, and some of those sports that that politics was, was, was really like affecting me and and, and my ability to make teams. I think that's why I like so much about swimming, is that it didn't matter who you are or what your name was or who your parents are, All that matters is that you get your hand on the wall as fast as you can. And, and yeah, so I felt like when I was younger, didn't have the same background as most kids. And I grew up with a single mother. And yeah, I just, I just felt like politics kind of were affecting, affecting my journey too much. And so I had to had to make that change for myself. Yeah. Let's talk about that background because that's part of the reason I wanted to meet you today. People need to know that you're the very first member of the Blood Tribe Kinai Nation to go to an Olympic Games. And I think I was checking you're the first Indigenous Olympic swimmer for Canada ever. Is that right too? I think I think that's right. But certainly I believe, I believe that's right. I think that's right. So the very first, that's the background that you have. And I'm wondering how you feel about that, for lack of better words. It's just, it's crazy to me. So just, yeah, yeah. Just fills me with this great sense of pride, just being able to represent people and people like me maybe didn't get every, every opportunity that most kids get growing up. Yeah. Just for me, it's just showing that that people like me, that I can do it and they can do it too. And yeah, I'm looking at some pictures. And we're all looking at some pictures here of a very special ceremony. People in the Blood Tribe, you received a ceremonial headdress. And we're just going to keep looking at these pictures for just a moment. This was not too long ago. Tell me about that evening and the honor it was for you and your mom and your family to receive that headdress and be honored by the tribe in this way. Yeah. That was probably one of the best days of my life. It's pretty small ceremony, mostly just filled with my family and some friends. But yeah, I I couldn't be prouder of that and, and where I come from and the people I represent. So, yeah, for me, that was just something that brings me a lot of pride. Well, you bring a lot of pride to them because I was struck by what somebody said at that ceremony. And they said this of you, Apollo, you're a role model to a lot of our children. You're blazing a trail that is going to open the doors for other people in the future. Is that what you'd like to be, someone who opens the doors for other Indigenous children to maybe get to the Olympics one day? Yeah. I mean, it's, it's like I said, it's it's still just crazy to me. But yeah, I, I just, I'd like to show people that they can do it as well. Just following your dreams and doing what you love. I also think that I was I was given a lot of opportunities at some some other kids on that grew up on reservations men not received. So, yeah, I just, I kind of, I kind of want to be the the example of what we were able to do as a people given the opportunities and given the facilities and then all that stuff that I was, that I had growing up. So would have been many indigenous athlete. Well, there haven't been many indigenous athletes. There been Indigenous athletes who made a tremendous contribution to Team Canada, but not in terms of numbers. So again, with people like you are showing what is possible. I want to talk about those opportunities because I, I suspect that many of them were created by your mother, Ingrid. And I think we better spend some time talking about how much of a difference she's made on your journey. Yeah, well, point blank, my mom is my mom's my hero. I love her so much. That wouldn't be wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today without her. Like all the sacrifices she's made for me and my brothers growing up. You know, like she, she was a single mother. Never had anybody help her out. My brothers and I all did all did all kinds of sports. We're in drama lessons, music lessons. We all played different instruments, we all, we all played hockey and soccer and, and all that stuff. So every weekend one of us was out of term and she was driving across the province and doing all that crazy stuff while also still being a lawyer and, and doing her own practice. So yeah, I, I mean, I'd like to dedicate this to my mom. Like she showed me how to how to be strong when when it's not easy to, and showed me how to work hard and. And yeah, even when things aren't going your way. So it's still just put your head down in your car then. Yeah. So glad. Yeah. Is she able to be. Is she able to to be in Paris to watch your race, Apollo? Yeah. I think she'll be there. I'm sure she wouldn't want to be anywhere else. My goodness. Yeah. Boy, I'd love to keep on talking to you and I hope we can continue this on in Paris. But can I ask 11 name? I read this this word as attached to you, and I didn't know what it was, so I'm going to try to say it. And then you you tell me the proper way and then what it really means. OK, So Mutoyachki. Mutoyachki. Is that close? It's close. OK, so you say it properly. OK, It's Mutoyachi. Oh, my goodness. Mutoyachi. But yeah, just not that sound, I guess So, yeah. That's my my Blackfoot name. And that was given to me by my my grandfather, Norman Fox, who passed away in 2021. So I received this name in 2019 and it it basically translates to ocean or ocean boy, Ocean boy. You know you're going to cross the ocean to follow your dream, right to Paris with your mom and all those who love you and support you. I can't wait to talk to you there. Thank you. Apollo, I wanted to speak to you today because it's National Indigenous Peoples Day. It is where we're honoring the Trail Blazers and the 1st and you are that so admirably. What a pleasure. Thank you so much again for having me. It's been an honor.

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