About 1,400 students gathered at Rundle Park on Thursday afternoon to celebrate a respected figure in Edmonton history.
Seven different schools in the city centre area, with students from kindergarten to Grade 9, participated in the 9th Annual Alex Decoteau Run, a five-kilometre race around the park.
Alex Decoteau made Edmonton history, as well as Canadian history, when he became the first aboriginal police officer in 1909. In 1912, he went to the Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden to run in the 5,000-metre race.
One event organizer, Izola Mottershead, whose great uncle was Decoteau, explained that the children in the city centre area look up to him. They are often taught about the achievements and significance of Decoteau.
“This is all to emulate Alex Decoteau and to try to carry his memory on,” Mottershead said.
Since Decoteau was an avid runner, what better way to celebrate his memory than an annual race.
“From the time he came to Edmonton, he was a phenomenal runner,” she said. “He won race after race after race. And not just winning but winning by a large margin.”
While all the separate grades waited for their turn to hit the trail around Rundle Park, many different games and activities were set up. And these games didn’t slow down, even when dark clouds began to roll in. “If it rains, it won’t matter,” Mottershead said with a smile. “We are just so grateful to have had this day as wonderful as it is.”
Grade 9 student Justis Balazs of Spruce Avenue won the race.
Decoteau died in 1917 while serving the Canadian Army in the First World War. His medals and trophies are collected and on display at the Edmonton Police Services office.