FEB 4 – 20


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9 Indigenous Olympians from Canada who rocked winter sports

Spencer O'Brien grabs her board as she soars through the air.
Spencer O'Brien competes in the ladies' big air qualification at PyeongChang 2018. (Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Indigenous athletes from Canada have made incredible contributions to our country's legacy at the Olympic Games, both in summer and winter events. 

In sports like ice hockey, skiing, snowboarding and curling, Indigenous athletes have been competing in winter sports at the Olympic level for over 80 years.

Kenneth Moore — ice hockey

Close-up portrait of Kenneth Moore

Just the Facts: 

  • From a family of eight from Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan. 
  • Had a natural athletic ability and spent countless hours at the ice rink. 

At the Olympics: Lake Placid 1932.

For the Win: First Indigenous athlete to win an Olympic gold medal representing Canada.

Sharon and Shirley Firth — cross-country skiing

Sharon and Shirley First in their snow gear and holding ski poles

(Canada's Sports Hall of Fame)

Just the Facts: 

  • Twin sisters from the Gwich'in First Nation in the Northwest Territories. 
  • Two of Canada's most outstanding Indigenous athletes to ever compete in the Winter Olympics and the only female skiers to have represented Canada in four consecutive Olympics.

At the Olympics: Sapporo 1972, Innsbruck 1976, Lake Placid 1980 and Sarajevo 1984.

For the Win: They didn't medal at the Olympics, but Sharon's 26th place in the women's 5 kilometre race in 1972 is still a Canadian best.

Spencer O'Brien - snowboarding

Spencer O'Brien grabs her board with one hand as she soars through the air

Spencer O'Brien competes in the ladies' big air qualification at PyeongChang 2018. (Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Just the Facts: 

  • Recognized as one of the world’s most skilled snowboarders. 
  • At age 11, she was taught how to snowboard by her dad and sister. 
  • Her grandmother is from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation.

At the Olympics: Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: She competed in women’s slopestyle and finished 12th in Sochi. In PyeongChang she came in 9th for big air and 22nd in slopestyle.

Jesse Cockney — cross-country skiing

Jesse Cockney on his cross-country skis  making his way across the snow in a night sprint.

Jesse Cockney competes in the men's cross-country individual sprint classic qualifications at PyeongChang 2018. (Franck Fife/Getty Images)

Just the Facts: 

  • A proud Inuvialuk from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. 
  • By the time he was five, Jesse was competing against, and nearly beating, eight-year-olds. 

At the Olympics: Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018

For the Win: In 2014, he made his debut in Sochi competing in the men's mass start 50km, sprint and relay 4x10km, where he placed 12th. In PyeongChang, he came in 35th in the sprint.

Carey Price — ice hockey

Carey Price in his goalie outfit kneels on the ice and holds his hockey stick.

Carey Price looks on during the men's ice hockey final against Sweden at Sochi 2014. (Andrej Isakovic/Getty Images)

Just the Facts: 

  • Considered one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, he currently plays for the Montreal Canadiens. 
  • Raised in Anahim Lake, B.C., where his mother is a chief in the Ulkatcho First Nations.

At the Olympics: Sochi 2014.

For the Win: He played for Team Canada as they defeated Sweden to capture the gold in Sochi.

Brigette Lacquette — ice hockey

Brigette Lacquette on one knee on the ice holding out her hockey stick at the puck.

Brigette Lacquette goes for the puck in the women's gold medal match against the U.S. at PyeongChang 2018. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Just the Facts: 

  • Made history by being the first Indigenous hockey player to be selected to Canada's National Women's Team. 
  • Began to play hockey at age five and looked up to Jordin Tootoo as he was the first person of Inuit descent to be drafted by an NHL team. 

At the Olympics: PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: The women's hockey team won silver in PyeongChang.

Kevin Koe — curling

Kevin Koe leans low on the ice as he throws his curling stone.

Kevin Koe throws the stone during the curling men's bronze medal game at PyeongChang 2018. (Wang Zhao/Getty Images)

Just the Facts: 

  • Began curling at age 12 and competing at 14 while living in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
  • His dad, Fred Koe, is a member of the Gwich'in First Nation in the Northwest Territories.

At the Olympics: PyeongChang 2018.

For the Win: His team came in 4th in PyeongChang.

Jocelyne Larocque — ice hockey

Jocelyne Larocque in her Team Canada uniform skates along with the puck.

Jocelyne Larocque gets ready to shoot the puck during the final period of the women's prelim round ice hockey match with Finland. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Just the Facts:

  • Started playing hockey at age five because she wanted to be just like her sister.
  • Of Métis heritage, she was named Manitoba's Indigenous Female Athlete of the Decade in 2021.

At the Olympics: Sochi 2014, PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022.

For the Win: The women's team won gold in Sochi and silver in PyeongChang.

Liam Gill — snowboarding

Liam Gill grabs the tip of his snowboard as he soars through the air.

Liam Gill during snowboard qualifiers for the Toyota U.S Grand Prix Snowboard/Freeski halfpipe event, 2021. (Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Just the Facts:

  • A proud descendant of the Dene people from the Northwest Territories. He's a member of the Liidlii Kue First Nation.
  • Started snowboarding at age four and was competing by the age of five.

At the Olympics: Beijing 2022.

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