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One of Canada's 1st First Nations Olympic gold medallists named to North American hall of fame

Jennifer Rattray holds her grandfather, Kenneth Moore's, Olympic gold medal and portrait in a 2015 file photo. Moore has been inducted into the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame. (Jill Coubrough/CBC - image credit)
Jennifer Rattray holds her grandfather, Kenneth Moore's, Olympic gold medal and portrait in a 2015 file photo. Moore has been inducted into the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame. (Jill Coubrough/CBC - image credit)

Jennifer Rattray says she was proud to see her grandfather recognized posthumously for his achievements as one of Canada's first Indigenous Olympic gold medallists.

Rattray's grandfather, Kenneth Moore, was inducted to the North American Indigenous Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Wisconsin on Saturday, she says.

"I spent the whole day, of course, thinking about my grandfather [and] everything that he ... and our family endured: the loss of his two older brothers at residential school and the really challenging life that he had," Rattray, who serves on CBC/Radio-Canada's board of directors but is currently on leave, said Saturday.

"The other side of that [are] the incredible gifts he was given and the incredible athlete he was, and he was an academic and … because of his athletic ability, he was able to go to university, which was almost unheard of in the 1920s."

A member of Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan, Moore was born in 1910 and grew up in Regina as a natural athlete who spent countless hours at the local rink.

Submitted by Jennifer Rattray
Submitted by Jennifer Rattray

Moore also played rugby and lacrosse, but he was most passionate about hockey. He played senior men's hockey in Winnipeg before competing in the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

It was there that Moore, a right winger, and his team won the Olympic gold medal. Rattray believes her grandfather is Canada's first First Nations Olympic gold medallist.

"He was a very humble man during his lifetime and wasn't ever really celebrated for that accomplishment," Rattray said.

Moore gave back after retiring from sports and became a coach, she said. He died in Winnipeg in 1981, following a long illness.

"He coached three teams to provincial championships, and he was just such a wonderful human being, and so for him to be recognized in this way — as part of the class of 2024 — was just beyond thrilling."

Time to 'celebrate everybody'

The North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame is three years old and inducts about 100 athletes a year — including those still active in their careers.

"Today, Moore's achievements would be exceptional. A century ago, his achievements are extraordinary. He represents excellence and what can happen when talent and heart triumph over poverty and prejudice," the hall of fame said on its website.

Rattray says her grandfather would have been honoured and humbled to have his achievements recognized by the hall of fame.

"It was just an absolutely incredible day," she said.

"There were in 450 people in this beautiful banquet hall, and there were other amazing inductees and families, and there was just so much love and gratitude in the room."

The Sakgeeng Oldtimers Hockey Club was also inducted into the hall of fame this year. Based in Sagkeeng First Nation, which about 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, the team drew Anishinaabe and Cree hockey players from throughout Manitoba.

The team, which included former Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Phil Fontaine, was previously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

"Being here from Manitoba, and my grandfather winning the Olympic gold medal — playing on the Winnipeg hockey team, and then seeing just a few tables over this amazing group of 22 from Sagkeeng was really a 'Manitoba pride' moment as well," Rattray said.

She says her grandfather's induction into the hall of fame signals that there are more unsung sports heroes from Canada's Indigenous communities that need to be recognized.

"I think it's time to look a little deeper and really look at Canada's true history and … celebrate everybody."