A statue honoring one of the NHL’s first Indigenous players, Fred Sasakamoose, was unveiled in Saskatoon on Wednesday.
May 18 has been officially proclaimed a day to honor his legacy.
Sasakamoose was an Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation elder and played for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1953-54 NHL season.
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Sasakamoose died at the age of 86 in November 2020 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan from complications related to COVID-19.
Sasakamoose dedicated his life to encouraging youth through sport and is remembered as someone who helped break down the racial barrier for Indigenous hockey players in the NHL.
He served on the NHL’s ethnic diversity task force after retiring from competitive hockey in 1961.
“Our father was born a free child among First Nations customs and culture and endured the horrors of residential school at a young age,” Sasakamoose’s son Neil said.
“He went on to become the Western Canada Junior Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player and saw the lights of the National Hockey League. He leaves a legacy of understanding and love for all nations to follow.
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The statue stands at the main entrance of the SaskTel Centre.
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It was commissioned by Synergy 8 Community Builders and in partnership with the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs.
A statement said renowned artist Don Begg of Studio West Bronze Foundry in Alberta “was inspired by Fred’s likeness as a young man who always had a smile on everyone he met.”
Troy Davies of Synergy 8 Community Builders said it’s important for future generations to be aware of Indigenous history.
“We feel it is important that Fred’s legacy in the city of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan be recognized,” said Davies.
Sasakamoose has also been recognized for its achievements and contributions by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).
Fred Sasakamoose Day offers chance to honor the life and legacy of an Indigenous hockey icon
He is a Member of the Order of Canada and has been inducted into the Saskatchewan First Nations Sports Hall of Fame, Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame, Prince Albert Hall of Fame and the Canadian Aboriginal Hockey Hall of Fame. Fame.
The Fred Sasakamoose “Chief Thunderstick” National Hockey Championship will be held at Merlis Belsher Place and Rod Hamm Memorial Arena Thursday through Saturday.
The tournament features First Nations, Métis and Inuit men’s and women’s hockey teams from across Canada.
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