Alex Decoteau, born in 1887 on Saskatchewan’s Red Pheasant reserve, was only 30 when he died, but he left a lasting legacy for athletes, law enforcement, the military and more.
Recorded history suggests Decoteau lived a happy childhood until the murder of his father in 1909, according to Sheila Kelly, executive director of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.
Decoteau attended a residential school called the Battleford Industrial School for Indians, where he competed in foot races.
“He became encouraged by his sister as well as other friends that said, ‘you know you obviously have a talent here. It’s something that you love to do. Maybe you should channel some of that into some formalized races,'” Kelly said.
His family moved to Edmonton, where he excelled in long-distance running. By the time qualifiers came around for the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, he’d become a well-known name.
He won that race too. Decoteau went on to finish sixth in the finals of the 5000-metre in the Stockholm Olympics.
In 1912, Decoteau became the first indigenous police officer in Canada when he joined the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).
“He’s a great role model for our youth of today and also for other police officers,” Const. Lisa Wolfe with the EPS said.
After reaching the rank of sergeant, Decoteau left Edmonton to serve in the First World War. He was shot and killed by a sniper during the Second Battle of Passchendaele on Oct. 30, 1917.
Today he is remembered with a commemorative run, a park in downtown Edmonton and a comic book created by the EPS.