Canadian Alex Decoteau was a standout runner and only 29 years old when he was killed in 1917 during the Great War, but his memory lives on through a new book by Gabriolian author Charlotte Cameron.
“His entire life was dramatic,” Cameron told the News Bulletin.
On Saturday (Nov. 8) Cameron will be speaking at the Gabriola library, where she will officially launch her book, Running: The Alex Decoteau Story, which has been published by Fictive Press.
The book is an extension of a one-act play of the same name that Cameron wrote in 2001, while she was living in Edmonton.
“There is a long introduction because a lot of different things happened before the play,” she said about the book.“After the play there are historic photographs, I think about 10 of Alex.”
Decoteau was born in 1887 on the Red Pheasant Reserve near Battleford, Sask. He eventually moved to Edmonton where he became Canada’s first Aboriginal police officer.
“His story is about having hopes and dreams,” Cameron said. “Like the dream of going to the Olympics in 1912 is a really good example of that.”
In 1912, Decoteau, who was Cree, participated as a runner in the Olympics in Stockholm.
Two years later, Decoteau joined the Canadian Army, where he was a private. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, that same year Decoteau was awarded King George V’s personal pocket watch after winning a five-mile race in England during a military sporting event.
In 1917, Decoteau was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele.
“He was running a message when he died,” Cameron said.
In the years following his death there have been a number of stories written about Decoteau’s life.
In 1967, Decoteau was inducted into Edmonton’s Sports Hall of Fame.