Edward Lennie to be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame
Edward Lennie is known as the father of the Northern Games. But his son, Hans, long wished his late father – an Inuvialuit Elder who promoted Arctic sports – would receive additional recognition.
That wish has come true. On May 12, Edward was announced as one of three builders to be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2022.
He’ll be inducted posthumously at a ceremony scheduled for October 6 in Toronto.
“I wanted him recognized at some level,” Hans said of his father, who died in 2020 at the age of 86. “But at this level? Wow.”
Hans, who lives in Inuvik, plans to attend October’s induction ceremony with his wife, Billie.
Edward coached athletes in eight events, including the kneel jump, two-foot high kick and arm pull, at the inaugural Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife in 1970.
The Games continue to be staged every two years, with teams representing circumpolar peoples.
Arctic sports can be challenging for participants starting out in the various disciplines.
“It builds character and self-esteem,” Hans said, adding his father was well aware of the difficulty.
“One of the things with the kids he worked with was that they were not allowed to say ‘I can’t.’ They had to at least try,” he said.
Hans, the fifth of eight children, said his dad was a father-like figure to dozens of others, including numerous young offenders.
“He had a cabin that he would take them out to and he got them involved with a trapper training program. It helped rehabilitate them. Some of those people who are now grown men are now mentors,” he said.
“My father never drank, and they respected that. It goes a long way when you practice what you preach.”
Edward will be among some household names being inducted into the hall of fame this year.
The five athletes being inducted are Hailey Wickenheiser, Adam van Koeverden, Dwayne de Rosario, John Tavares and Tim McIsaac.
Besides Edward, the two builders being inducted are sportscaster Brian Williams, who retired this past December, and Tricia Smith, a former rower who competed in four Olympics and is now the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
The Chatham Coloured All-Stars, a men’s baseball team comprised of Black players, and the Preston Rivulettes, a women’s hockey squad, will be inducted through the Trailblazer category in its first year.
“This is just such an honour, seeing him showcased in line with all of the other mainstream sports stars,” Hans said of his father.