"Trailblazer. Residential school survivor. First Indigenous player in the NHL. All of these descriptions are true--but none of them tell the whole story. Fred Sasakamoose suffered abuse in a residential school for a decade before becoming one of 125 players in the most elite hockey league in the world--and has been heralded as the first Canadian Indigenous player with Treaty status in the NHL. He made his debut with the 1954 Chicago Black Hawks on Hockey Night in Canada and taught Foster Hewitt how to correctly pronounce his name. Sasakamoose played against such legends as Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, and Maurice Richard. After twelve games, he returned home. When people tell Sasakamoose's story, this is usually where they end it. They say he left the NHL after only a dozen games to return to the family and culture that the Canadian government had ripped away from him. That returning to his family and home was more important to him than an NHL career. But there was much more to his decision than that. Understanding Sasakamoose's decision to return home means grappling with the dislocation of generations of Indigenous Canadians. Having been uprooted once, Sasakamoose could not endure it again. It was not homesickness; a man who spent his childhood as "property" of the government could not tolerate the uncertainty and powerlessness of being a team's property. Fred's choice to leave the NHL was never as clear-cut as reporters have suggested. And his story was far from over. He continued to play for another decade in leagues around Western Canada. He became a band councillor, served as Chief, and formed athletic programs for kids. He paved a way for youth to find solace and meaning in sports for generations to come. This isn't just a hockey story; Sasakamoose's groundbreaking memoir intersects Canadian history and Indigenous politics, and follows his journey to reclaim pride in an identity that had previously been used against him."-- Provided by publisher.
Hockey players -- Canada -- Biography.
Indigenous hockey players -- Canada -- Biography.
Indigenous peoples -- North America -- Saskatchewan -- Residential schools.
Sasakamoose, Fred, 1933-2020.