JOE BENJAMIN KEEPER
Inducted in 2015
Set a ten-mile record of 54:50
Joe Benjamin Keeper, an Olympic athlete and a WWI veteran, originated from the Norway House Cree Nation in Walker Lake, Manitoba. During his time spent in a residential school in Brandon he developed his passion for long distance running. In 1911, Joe moved to Winnipeg and set a ten-mile record of 54:50 which earned him a spot on the 1912 Canadian Olympic Team.
Unfortunately the outbreak of WW1 ended his Olympic opportunities, but Joe was recognized with a military medal for his bravery in 1917. He continued to use his running skills during WWI by serving as a dispatch carrier along with other First Nations long distance runners with the 107th Pioneer Battalion. Following WWI Joe returned to Manitoba and worked until his retirement in 1951. The Manitoba Runner’s Association and the Norway House Cree Nation each host a memorial races in Joe’s name annually.