Manitoba

Canada's 1st indigenous Olympic gold medallist not recognized, family says

The family of Kenneth Moore, who was part of the Canadian men's hockey team at the 1932 Winter Olympics, wants him to be recognized as the country's first indigenous athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.

Kenneth Moore was part of Canadian hockey team that won gold at 1932 Winter Olympics

Family of Kenneth Moore, 1932 Winter Olympics Gold medallist says he should be recognized in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame 2:10

You won't find Kenneth Moore's name in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, but his family thinks you should.

"[He was] a poor boy from a family of eight from Peepeekisis First Nation," Moore's granddaughter, Jennifer Rattray, told CBC News.

"For him to actually achieve what he achieved … is really quite astounding."

Moore, who was born to a First Nation family in Saskatchewan in 1910, grew up as a natural athlete who spent countless hours at the local rink.

He played senior men's hockey in Winnipeg. His team won the Memorial Cup and was shot into an international arena: the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

It was there that Moore, a right winger, and his team won the Olympic gold medal.

Jennifer Rattray holds up Kenneth Moore's Olympic gold medal along with a portrait of him. (Jill Coubrough/CBC)
"It was really exciting because I knew he'd been a hockey player but really didn't know what he'd accomplished," Rattray said.

"He didn't talk about it, but after he passed [in 1982] we found boxes and scrapbooks and paraphanalia."

In an old chest of drawers, Rattray found dozens of newspaper clippings, photographs, her grandfather's Olympic jersey and, of course, his gold medal.

It wasn't until 2009, amid the buzz leading up to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, that Rattray decided to dig further.

"I got really interested in the Olympics and I thought my grandfather was humble and never shared his story, and my family never shared his story, so I felt a responsibility," she said.

"So I did some research … and through that process realized that my grandfather was the first First Nations person to win an Olympic gold medal."

Filed nomination application twice

Rattray said she then filed a nomination application with Canada's Sports Hall of Fame — twice — to have her grandfather recognized. 

"Didn't receive any response; I didn't receive anything back," she said.

Rattray followed up with emails and phone calls, but she received no word.

"After two years of trying, I moved on," she said.

Fast-forward to this month, when Rattray's husband read in the newspaper that the hall of fame has released its latest list of inductees.

"My husband noticed in the newspaper some language around one of the other nominees being the first indigenous person to participate in a Winter Olympics and I know that's not accurate," Rattray said.

At the time, the hall of fame had identified the Firth sisters — twin cross-country skiers who competed at four Olympic games — to be the first indigenous athletes to attend the Winter Olympics.

Both Rattray and her husband do not want to take away from the Firth sisters' accomplishments, but they want Moore to be recognized as well.

"I'm a history buff. I teach history, so to know that that was not necessarily accurate and then have the family connection to that got me motivated to correct an error," said Stacey Dainard, Rattray's husband.

Dainard sent an email to the president of the hall of fame to flag the error.

Hall of fame corrects language

In an email, a spokesperson for Canada's Sports Hall of Fame told CBC News they became aware of Kenneth Moore on Thursday morning.

"We have made the clarification that the Firth sisters are believed to be the first Inuit-Indigenous athletes to represent Canada at the Winter Olympic Games," the spokesperson wrote.

However, CBC News has confirmed that the Firth sisters are Gwich'in, not Inuit.

According to the hall of fame, the selection committee reviews hundreds of nominations and selections are based on three criteria: athletic achievement, social values the athlete exhibits, and the nominee's broader impact on his or her sport, community or country.

Moore has yet to be acknowledged.

"My grandfather worked so hard and had a very difficult life, and what he was able to accomplish in 1932 by being a member of an Olympic team and by winning a gold medal is absolutely astounding. He deserves the credit and the respect for those accomplishments, and that's what I'm most concerned about," Rattray said.

"I really feel a duty for that for that not to be forgotten."

Rattray said the president of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame has since apologized for its lack of response to her past applications and encouraged her to nominate her grandfather again in 2016.

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