This is our last episode of Changing On The Fly for season 1! We’ll be back with season 2 in the fall. So as we head out for the summer, we leave you with this very special episode.
Fred Sasakamoose is a Cree elder from the Ahtahkakoop Cree reservation in central Saskatchewan. He famously became one of the first Indigenous people to ever play in the NHL, putting on a Chicago Blackhawks jersey and playing 11 games for the team in the 1953 season. But the road to there was paved with trauma, tragedy, and resilience. Fred, like so many other Indigenous people of his generation, is a survivor of Canada’s Residential School system. He learned to play hockey at St-Michael’s Indian Residential School, but also suffered great abuse there. Still, he kept up with his passion, and went on to make it to the highest level for a hockey player.
Fred was awarded the Order of Canada in Ottawa in May 2018, and I got to sit down with him after the ceremony so that he could share his beautiful story with all of us. And here it is.
This story was originally produced and aired on NPR’s Only A Game in September 2018.
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