A bronze statue of Fred Sasakamoose stands across from Gordie Howe to celebrate two of Saskatchewan’s greatest hockey players.

The unveiling of the Sasakamoose statue took place during a special ceremony Wednesday morning with hundred’s of people and several dignitaries on hand to take in the historic moment.

Fred Sasakamoose, a member of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, was the first treaty status hockey player to play in the NHL spending time with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1950s.  Sasakamoose spent the decades since then helping develop young Indigenous hockey players and promoting reconciliation efforts.

Sasakamoose died in 2020 at the age of 86. His statue now stands on the top of the steps leading in to the Sasktel Centre.

(PHOTO: Neil Sasakamoose addresses the statue unveiling ceremony in front of a photo collage of his late father.  Photo by Joel Willick.)

“It’s a big day for the family,” said Fred’s youngest son Neil Sasakamoose.

While Neil began to get emotional when speaking about his father, his mother Loretta Sasakamoose came to offer him support.

“When your family starts passing away you start missing them.” he said.

Neil says he believes he was the last person to speak to Fred before he passed who asked his son to carry on two promises after his death.

“Look after your mom and don’t let people forget who I am,” said Neil who believes the statue will certainly help with one of those promises.

(PHOTO: A large crowd gathered to celebrated the statue unveilng.  Photo by Joel Willick.)

Former NHL teammates of Fred, representatives from the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks, members of all levels of government, and dozens of Indigenous leaders were on hand to pay their respect to the hockey legend.

“A huge icon for Indigenous people,” said FSIN vice-chief Dutch Lerat.

“He has made so many contributions to our community, the province, the world,” said Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation Chief Larry Ahenakew.

“How amazing in Saskatoon, right here in Treaty 6 territory and homeland of the Métis, that kids walking up these steps will see Fred Sasakamoose on one side and Gordie Howe on the other side and draw inspiration and strength,” said Saskatoon mayor Charlie Clark.

While several people spoke during the ceremony one thing was very clear – Sasakamoose, while being a famous hockey player, was always proud of his Cree heritage and language and made sure people knew it.

(TOP PHOTO: the newly unveiled Fred Sasakamoose statue at Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon.  Photo by Joel Willick.)