Special to Indian Country Today
Canada’s Forgotten Olympian is forgotten no more.
Kenneth Moore, Peepeekisis Cree Nation, is being considered for induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame after a 90-year drought for recognition, hall of fame officials confirmed Thursday to Indian Country Today.
Moore, who played for the Canadian gold-medal hockey team in the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, is believed to be the first Indigenous person to have won gold for Canada at a Winter Olympics.
His nomination to the hall of fame will be considered this spring by the selection committee, according to Misty Kolozetti, the hall’s vice president for marketing, fund development and communications.
—Canada's Forgotten Olympian: Kenneth Moore
Moore’s granddaughter, Jennifer Moore Rattray, who learned of the nomination from Indian Country Today, expressed hope that this could finally be his year. She has nominated her grandfather twice for induction into the hall of fame but has been rejected.
“I would say I'm always hopeful,” Rattray said. “I think he was an extraordinary athlete at an incredibly difficult time in our history, and that his accomplishments, I hope someday, will be acknowledged by this country.”
The confirmation that he will be considered by the committee came the same day Indian Country Today published an article detailing Moore’s overlooked legacy as an Indigenous athlete and the hardships he faced during a time when First Nations children were forcibly taken from their homes to attend Indian residential schools.
Kolozetti said individuals are considered for induction into the hall through a public nomination process, which closed in the middle of January. The 252 “active” nominations received will go to the selection committee for a decision on who should be included.
“Usually, it's approximately eight individuals that are selected to be a member of the annual class,” Kolozetti said. “That will be announced in May. And so, what I can confirm, is that there has been a public nomination for Kenneth Moore.”
Moore represented his country following a harrowing personal journey starting with his family leaving their home reserve with the Peepeekisis First Nation under cover of night to keep their surviving children out of the Indian Residential School System. Moore's two older brothers had been taken and sent hundreds of miles away to the Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba, where they died under unknown circumstances.
In 1924, when Moore turned 7 years old and would have been forced under Canada law to attend residential school, the family snuck away. First Nations people were required until 1951 to provide a pass granted by an Indian agent to move freely off the reserve.
The family settled in the city of Regina, Saskatchewan, about 100 miles away from their reserve. It would have been a foreign place to a Cree family, but Rattray told Indian Country Today that she believes the sacrifice drove her grandfather’s ambition and high achievement.
“That was a huge sacrifice,” she said. “I would imagine that that weighed on him, the fact that everything that his family and his parents had done to keep him safe, that in some way he needed to show them it was worthwhile … He needed to show them that their sacrifice was worthwhile, and so he was an incredibly hard worker.”
Although Moore never played in the National Hockey League or competed for a Stanley Cup, he won two other coveted hockey championships, the Memorial Cup and the Allan Cup, and served as a volunteer for hockey throughout his life. He died in 1981.
The Canada Sports Hall of Fame had originally designated twin sisters Shirley and Sharon Firth as Canada’s first Indigenous Winter Olympians. The sisters represented Canada in cross-country skiing at the 1972 games in Sapporo, Japan.
The twins were inducted into the hall in 2015, and it was at that time that Rattray brought her grandfather’s accomplishments to the attention of officials there. Each year since, she has watched with disappointment as her grandfather failed to win recognition for his accomplishments.
Kolozetti said it is the goal of the hall to share the stories of its Indigenous Hall of Famers.
“Much like the Indigenous sport heroes exhibit that we launched in August of this past year, it is really sharing the lived experiences of our Indigenous Hall of Famers, with the intention to educate and inspire youth across Canada, Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” she said. “Our role is to really curate these stories and share them.”
Rattray will be watching and waiting.
“There's an appropriate way to acknowledge, and that is with recognition in the Canada Sports Hall of Fame,” she said. “So I'm hopeful. But he has been nominated by me on two occasions … We have to live in hope, don’t we?”