Dr. Willie Littlechild, IPC
Multisport Builder Inducted 2009
Willie Littlechild was an exceptional athlete as a young boy and he had huge dreams. A Cree Indian from the Ermineskin Tribe of the Maskwacis Cree Nation, he has won more than seventy provincial, regional, national and international championships in the sports of hockey, swimming, baseball and triathlon. He also competed in rodeo (bull riding) and golf. Willie earned his Master’s Degree in Physical Education in 1975 and was the first Treaty Indian from Alberta to graduate from Law School, in 1976. While at university, Willie developed his skills in sports administration by serving as vice-president of the Men’s Athletic Association and as student manager of football and basketball teams.
As an athlete, coach, volunteer, and sports consultant, Willie recognized the benefits of sport and strived to create opportunities for youth to improve their self-esteem and realize their potential through sport. Having organized many sport schools and coaches clinics, he visualized a world-wide Olympic-style Indigenous Games. In 1971, he organized a sporting event – the Native Summer Games for Alberta. The Enoch Cree Nation hosted the games with more than 3000 athletes participating in 13 sporting events. The North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) was born and is now the highlight for thousands of Indigenous athletes and cultural participants from across North America. He also organized the Native Golf Association and the Native Hockey Council.
Dr. Littlechild was the first Treaty Indian elected Member of Parliament and helped draft the United Nations and OAS Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – including the recognition of “sports and traditional games”. He has received numerous awards throughout the years which include the Tom Longboat Award as the Canadian Indian Athlete of the Year in 1967 and 1974, and the World Fete d’ Excellence Laureate for Sports award in 1999 and 2000; the Alberta Centennial Hockey Award; and has been inducted into six other Sports Halls of Fame. Dr. Littlechild received the Order of Canada in 1998 for sports and law.
Since his induction into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, Wilton Littlechild was a Torchbearer and ambassador for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games Torch relay. He was named commissioner of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission which he served on from 2011 to 2016. A former Residential School student, Willie and the commission members researched documents, and travelled across the nation to listen to the stories of Residential School survivors. The final report was released on December 15, 2015. It outlined the history and legacy of the residential schools and presented a path and chart towards reconciliation. In 2014, he was reappointed to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He received the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2014, the Indspire Award for Law and Justice in 2015, and an Honorary Doctorate from Concordia in 2018. On October 18, 2018, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. This was his eighth induction into a sports hall of fame. From 2016 to the end of 2019, he was the Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty Six Nations.
1986 – U of Alberta Sports Wall of Fame
1999 – U of Alberta – Distinguished Alumni Award
1999 – Member of the Order of Canada (Invested on September 23, 1999) C.M.
1999 – World Fete D’Excellence Laureate for Sports
2000 – World Fete D’Excellence Laureate for Sports
2004 – Named as “one of the 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century)
2005 – Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award
2006 – Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians Distinguished Service Award
2007 – U of Alberta – Honourary Doctorate
2009 – Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee: Builder category.
2010 – Torchbearer and ambassador for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games Torch relay
2011 – 2016 Commissioner: Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The report was released on December15, 2015.
2012 – Lawyer of the Year Aboriginal Law
2012 – Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal
2014 – Reappointed to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
2014 – Alberta Order of Excellence A.O.E.
2015 – Indspire Award for Law and Justice – one of the highest honours bestowed upon an indigenous person.
2016 – named to Calgary's 2026 Olympic potential bid Exploration Committee (note: the people of Calgary voted to not put the bid through to the Olympic committee).
2016 – U of Manitoba Honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for advocacy and leadership
2016 – Elected Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty Six Nations. (His term finished December 31, 2019).
2017 – Governor General – The Meritorious Service Cross Award (Civil Division) M.S.C.
2018 – Concordia University Honorary Doctorate (June 11, 2018)
2018 – Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (October 18, 2018) – Builder
2022 – Led an assembly of First Nations delegation to the Vatican to meet and receive an apology from Pope Francis for Residential School abuses.
1967 & 1974 – he is a two-time recipient of the Tom Longboat Award – as outstanding Aboriginal athlete and for his contribution to sport in Canada.
1976 – Wilton Littlechild became Alberta’s 1st Treaty First Nation person to become a lawyer
1988 – He became the 1st, Treaty First Nation person elected as an MP, sitting in Parliament as the representative member for the riding of Wetaskiwin-Rimbey until 1993.
Willie has participated in a number of Canada Senior Games (as of 2014: 4 Games)
J. Wilton Littlechild, C.M., A.O.E., M.S.C., Q.C.
J. Wilton Littlechild, IPC, CM, FP, QC, LLD (hon)