A recipient of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Tony Cote has spent a lifetime in service to his community, his province and his country. Furthermore, he has shown that sport can serve to elevate not only an individual, but society as a whole.
First elected as Chief of the Cote First Nation in 1970, Cote took the lead on a series of improvements that would benefit the community for years to come. He initiated construction of a hockey arena with an artificial ice surface—a first among Saskatchewan First Nations. He followed this by establishing the first all-Native Junior ‘B’ Hockey team in Saskatchewan, serving as the club president for the next five years.
From 1974 to1978, Cote was the manager of the Cote Selects women’s fastball team. During that time, the team competed in tournaments across North America, taking part in the National Indian Activities Association championships in 1977 and 1978.
In 1975, Cote formed the first all-Native Old-Timers hockey team in Saskatchewan. The “Wagonburners” were Saskatchewan East Division champs in 1977 and finished their season at a tournament in Florida, United States of America.
Cote’s greatest sports achievement extends well beyond the borders of the Cote First Nation. In 1974, he was instrumental in the organization of the inaugural Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games (SFNSG). Today, the SFNSG (as well as its counterpart Winter Games) brings together athletes, coaches, volunteers and fans from the province’s 74 First Nations, providing opportunity for sport and encouraging Aboriginal youth to compete to the best of their abilities.
The significant increase in participation rates of First Nation athletes, as well as the increase in the skill level of those athletes, stands as the true legacy of these Games. To acknowledge his role as founder, the Saskatchewan First Nations Summer and Winter Games each grant the Tony Cote Award to the Tribal Council that has demonstrated the most improvement.
Tony was awarded the Tom Longboat Medal in 1974 as the province’s outstanding sportsman. Cote continues to serve the public, offering his guidance and experience whenever needed and maintains his residence on the Cote First Nation.
Installed in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on June 18th, 2011.