Back in October 2010, during a four-kilometre race, 11-year-old Landon Sasakamoose was competing against — and beating — runners two and three years older than him at a meet on the Pelican Lake First Nation.
The sprinter from the Ahtahkakoop First Nation, approximately 80 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert, Sask., was about two kilometres into the race and was nearly alone in the lead — except for the company of an eagle following him from above.
“I was getting scared, because what if this eagle picks me up? That’s what I was thinking,” Sasakamoose recalled, noting there were bear and cougar sightings in the area the day before.
When he crossed the finish line, he noticed the eagle still circling up above. Excited, Sasakamoose received his gold medal and took it back home to his father.
“My dad said, ‘That was the Creator looking after you, to make sure nothing happened to you,'” he said.
Since then, Sasakamoose — the grandson of Fred Sasakamoose, the first Indigenous player in the NHL — has become a track and field star, taking home gold medals in both the 200- and 300-metre sprints at 2014 North American Indigenous Games.
He’ll return to those games this year — running from July 16-23 in Toronto — as part of Team Saskatchewan. Sasakamoose will run in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre events, as well as the 4×100-metre relay and 4×400-metre relay.
And he said he expects to come home with some gold again this year.
As he has for the last several years, he’ll be running at NAIG with an eagle feather on his arm — something that goes back to that eagle he saw while running in October of 2010.
Before Sasakamoose left to compete in the 2011 Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games, his father, Elgin “Chuck”…