Fred Sasakamoose may be best known for his achievements on the ice, but he made his biggest contributions off it. As the first treaty Indian to play in the National Hockey League (NHL), Sasakamoose broke the barrier for generations of First Nations players to come at all levels of the game.
Sasakamoose broke into the NHL during the six-team era, where he skated among the elite players in the league. He played 11 games with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1953/54 season, but he also enjoyed a successful minor league hockey career.
Following his time in Chicago, Sasakamoose returned home to the Ahtahkakoop First Nation northwest of Prince Albert to help give others the same opportunities he received. With no athletic equipment, events or facilities in the area, he worked extensively to build and develop minor hockey and other sports in the community. Initially the focus was on long-distance running, but expanded to include hockey, soccer, baseball and track and field. Tournaments, leagues and sports days followed as a result of these initiatives, as well as the Saskatchewan Indian Summer and Winter Games. In addition to the goal of developing champions, Sasakamoose also promoted positive lifestyles and the importance of volunteerism.
In 1962, Sasakamoose focused his efforts on hockey as one of the founding members of the Northern Indian Hockey League. His promotion of the game helped spur the construction of arenas in communities in northern Saskatchewan. More recently, he assisted with the All Nations Hockey School in Saskatoon before establishing the Fred Sasakamoose All Star Hockey Week; a hockey camp that focuses on diversity and integration in addition to hockey skills. Sasakamoose also served on the NHL Diversity Task Force, as well as the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Besides promoting the game of hockey, he has used the sport as a platform to bring awareness to the plight of Aboriginal Peoples throughout North America. Sasakamoose also became involved in First Nations politics following his hockey career.
The Assembly of First Nations, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and various Saskatchewan First Nations have recognized Sasakamoose for his achievements. In 2002, the Chicago Blackhawks also honoured him. Sasakamoose has been inducted into the Saskatchewan First Nations Sports Hall of Fame, Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame, Meadow Lake Wall of Fame, FSIN Circle of Honour and the Canadian Native Hockey Hall of Fame.
Installed in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on June 16, 2007.