Indigenous athletes inducted into SK Sports Hall of Fame
- NC Raine | November 26, 2018
The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) has honoured Indigenous athletics with the induction of nine athletes into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on Friday afternoon.
The nine inductees are Claude Petit, Jacqueline Lavallee, Bryan Trottier, Jim Neilson, Tony Cote, David Greyeyes, Paul Acoose, Alexander Decoteau, and Fred Sasakamoose, who was the first Indigenous hockey player in the NHL.
In honour of these athletes, U of S partnered with the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and unveiled a new display in their Physical Activity Complex (PAC). The display includes artifacts from the nine athletes, including jerseys, trophies, photographs, and sports equipment.
The U of S has also unveiled a new interactive electronic kiosk, with information about each athlete. The kiosk will be regularly updated with information on other Indigenous athletes.
“When we have young kids or even students and community members coming into the building here on the university campus and seeing this display, they’re going to be inspired,” said Chad London, Dean of College of Kinesiology. “We have over 250,000 visitors into the PAC every year, who come in to use our (facilities) and when they see these displays, that to me is the most meaningful part. They’ll be inspired to say ‘I can do it too.’”
The recognition and celebration of Indigenous athletics results from the U of S’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action 87, which reads: “We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.”
“This is a direct response to that call,” said London. “To make sure that these amazing athletes’ careers are featured as prominently as they deserve to be.”
Peter Stoicheff, President of the U of S, said reconciliation is foundational to everything done at the university, and these stories of athletic success are important now and to future generations.
“In showcasing them deliberately now will, I hope, engender pride in Indigenous youth and all Canadians. We must tell these stories,” said Stoicheff. “Because of the experience they have had here in athletics, they have learned how to learn, how to lose, they have learned teamwork, discipline, how to recover from a loss and get better. All of these are skills that are transferable to the rest of their lives after they leave their sports life.”
Eugene Arcand, member of the TRC, said that while this induction highlights the success of Indigenous athletes, it also highlights some challenges both past and present.
“I’ve come to find that every community has a hero. People that stood up in sport. That really makes me prideful, but it also makes me question why they’re not in the hall of fame? Was it because of segregation? Poverty? Of other variables that are systemic? Is it a class of colonial thinking versus Indigenous teaching?” said Arcand. “As much as I applaud what we’re doing, there’s also a requirement for us to understand what the Calls to Action say as they relate to sport.”