Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 87: Sports and Reconciliation (87-91)

First Nations Olympic medalist to be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

July 4, 2024

Angela Chalmers will be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame this October.

Windspeaker.com: Former middle-distance running star Angela Chalmers will return to Canada for a quick visit this fall.

Chalmers, a member of Birdtail Sioux First Nation in Manitoba, has been living in Australia for the past 24 years. She’ll return as one of six athletes to be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame as part of the 2024 class. Induction ceremonies will be held Oct. 23 in Gatineau, Que.

“I am quite humbled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Chalmers said. “I am still processing what it all means to me. I know my family is happy and proud of me, which makes me feel good.”

The list of this year’s inductees also includes First Nations sports administrator Alex Nelson, who will be inducted via the Builder category. The Windspeaker story on him can be read here: https://windspeaker.com/news/sports/former-naig-president-be-inducted-canadas-sports-hall-fame

Chalmers won a bronze medal in the women’s 3000-metre race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Spain. She considers that event the highlight of her career.

Chalmers also won gold medals in both her 1,500-metre and 3000-metre races at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand.

Chalmers, who is now 60, has for the past dozen years lived on a sugarcane farm she owns with her husband, Simon Doyle, in Bundaberg, a city located on the Queensland coast.

Doyle, who was also an elite middle-distance runner, is Australian. Chalmers said part of the reason she moved to Australia was because their daughter Emily was the first grandchild for Doyle’s parents. Chalmers’ mother already had more than 20 grandchildren at the time.

Chalmers said she was also keen to be a full-time mother. Doyle was employed at a massive cattle property in Queensland, so the couple decided to stay in Australia.

Chalmers did eventually return to work. She spent the last 11 years working as a medical laboratory scientist. She retired from her position in early June.

“I am thinking about the next chapter and have some goals and dreams I’d like to reach,” she said.

Chalmers is also still active.

“I do run two, three days a week and walk most other days,” she said.

Her last competitive race was in March 2023 when she ran a 10-kilometre segment that was part of a team triathlon.

“I am hoping to run a bit more now that I have stopped working full-time,” Chalmers said.

Though she has yet to work with any Indigenous youth in Australia, Chalmers is hoping to become a tutor/mentor at Central Queensland University in the near future.

“I am aware there is work to be done in Indigenous health and education both in Canada and Australia,” she said. “It has been my dream to somehow work to help close the gap on these two issues.” 

Chalmers said she did view herself as an Indigenous role model and continues to do so.

“However, I wasn’t completely comfortable with that when I first started receiving recognition,” she said. “I think this was because my motivation to succeed, like all athletes, was deeply personal and quite selfish. I struggled to translate my journey as an athlete into something motivating to somebody else.

“I think I am better equipped now to be a role model. I can now see how my experiences as an athlete have value beyond racing and winning.”

Chalmers has some advice for young Indigenous runners.

“Running is such a simple sport, but it can become complicated and stressful, especially when it comes to performance,” she said. “My advice is to keep it simple. Forget the stopwatch, whenever you can, and listen to your body. Sometimes just putting your running shoes on and getting outside is all you need.”

The other athletes who will be inducted into the hall of fame this year are Vicky Sunohara (hockey), Daniel Nestor (tennis), Patrick Chan (figure skating), Kirby Cote (para swimming) and Fred Thomas, a multi-sport athlete who will be posthumously honoured.

Besides Nelson, Dr. Guylaine Demers will also be inducted through the Builder category.

And former high jumper Debbie Brill will be recognized in the Trailblazer category.

By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Windspeaker.com

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.