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Legends Live On

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY-AUGUST 1994      v23 n06 p11  
Saskatchewan First Nations Sports Hall of Fame opening Janice Acoose is a runner. She finds it quite natural to run, she says. And that is hardly surprising. Being fleet of foot runs in her veins. Her great great grandfather Qwewitch, and great grandfather Samuel were legendary hunters of speed and endurance. Her grandfather, Paul Acoose, was, in 1908, the three and five mile road champion of Western Canada and, in 1909, turned pro, won a 15 miler against Englishman Fred Appleby, setting a world record of 1:22:22. The very name Acoose, which translated means Man Standing Above ground, was given to a family honored and respected for its running prowess.

This is the stuff legends are made of; that children hear at their parents knee. Janice grew up knowing at she had a grandfather who was very special. She had a role model for success. Today she is a successful writer and her work includes a CBC radio story of her grandfather.

Paul Acoose is a hero that every child can admire and emulate. He is a role model for every young First Nations runner who has thought, just maybe, he could set a world record or win the gold.

With the founding, July 14, of the first Saskatchewan First Nations Sports Hall of Fame, the stories will be told for generations to come, to all who wander its halls to browse among the memorabilia of First Nations greats.

This is a place that will tell the story of David Greyeyes Steele, born in 1914 on the Muskeg Lake reserve, who in 1949 played soccer on the Saskatchewan All Star team against Newcastle United; of Olympian Alex Wuttunee Decoteau (1887-1917) of Red Pheasant Reserve, one of the best distance runners in Canada in the 20th century; of Fred Sasakamoose (1933- ) of the Whitefish Lake Reserve, the first treaty Indian to make the NHL; of Art Obey of the Piapot Reserve, coach of the Saskatchewan Indian Bantam Hockey team at went to Europe in 1974; and the story of Paul Acoose.

As the years go by, First Nations heroes will join the ranks and be remembered and revered, as the hall of fame researches sports history; as it collects preserves, interprets and commemorates the achievements and traditions in sport among Saskatchewan's First Nations.

In the opening ceremonies, Joe Quewezance congratulated Eugene Arcand and his commission on getting the job done. "We've come a long way in recognizing our own people," he said.

Chief Harry Lafond welcomed the First Nations Sports Hall of Fame to the Muskeg Reserve, proud that he could contribute to this important initiative. As we prepare for next year's Indigenous Games and recognize competent athletes, he said, it is important to recognize our heroes. "These kids need their own Gordie Howes and Peles to look up to."

Donating a ball glove that would evoke memories of past glory on the field, Chief Lafond quipped, "I'm glad I didn't have to use it."

Though sports equipment has, through technology, vastly improved over the years, one thing is constant. It is still the human spirit that soars to greatness and makes the difference between a winner and an also ran. It is still force of character that creates an athlete.

The Saskatchewan First Nations Hall of Fame captures this spirit.