Manitobans enshrined in North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame


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A pair of Manitobans were immortalized among the best Indigenous athletes ever last week.

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A pair of Manitobans were immortalized among the best Indigenous athletes ever last week.

Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine (Anishinaabe) and Jayme Menzies (Métis) were enshrined into the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame on Feb. 1. They were honoured alongside 73 other inductees in the grand class.

Fontaine who died May 10, 2021, was inducted into the media/athlete category for his contributions as a hockey player, Chief, Elder, author, educator and public speaker.

Before playing senior and semi-professional hockey in the Detroit Red Wings organization (an opportunity he gave up on due to overt racism) Fontaine survived 12 years in residential schools, where he experienced sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse. He would continue his hockey career with the Sagkeeng Oldtimers for 10 years after his departure from the Red Wings, winning international, national and regional awards and three World Cups.

The next chapter of Fontaine’s life was dedicated to supporting Indigenous people and their place in sport. Fontaine spent 11 years with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and served on numerous boards, including where he fought for Indigenous people’s participation in the Pan-American Games.

“The induction of my husband, Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine, to the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame, is an honour and tribute to his resilience and determination to survive and overcome the harms of 12 years incarceration in Indian Residential Schools, experiencing sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse,” said Fontaine’s wife Morgan in a statement.

“He dedicated his career to supporting Indigenous people across Canada through leadership writing, teaching and public speaking. His lifelong achievements through hockey, community activism and published writing are his legacy for Indigenous resilience, truth and equity in Canada. His legacy is now enhanced by his induction to the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame.”

Menzies, inducted into the athlete/coach category, is also known for her contributions as a community advocate who uses sport as a vehicle for social change.

Early in her athletic career, Menzies served as the captain of the University of Winnipeg Wesmen’s women’s volleyball team for three years. The U of W is also where she studied sciences before moving on to law.

Menzies now works with Indigenous communities, one of her highlights coming as a part of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people.

Menzies hasn’t strayed far from the court either. She’s cemented herself as one of the province’s brightest volleyball coaches over the last two decades, heading the Canadian Mennonite University squad and Team Manitoba at the North American Indigenous Games for the last four cycles.

Menzies was awarded Manitoba’s Female Indigenous Coach of the Decade recently for her impact in sport.

— staff


Updated on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 5:42 PM CST: Fixes spelling of Theodore

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