Alexander Decoteau (1887–1917) was a Cree athlete and the first Aboriginal police officer in Canada. He was born on November 19, 1887, on the Red Pheasant Indian Reserve in Battleford, Saskatchewan. As a youth he attended day school on the reserve and then Battleford Industrial School. After moving to Edmonton, he was hired as a constable with the city’s police force in 1909. By the time the war began, he had been promoted to police sergeant. In Western Canada he was well known as a competitive distance runner, and many of his racing accomplishments are noted in the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame. Decoteau represented Canada at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, competing in the 5,000-metre race. He finished second in his qualifying heat, but placed sixth in the final race after developing leg cramps. On April 24, 1916, he enlisted with the 202nd Infantry Battalion (Edmonton Sportsmen’s Battalion) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. On November 24, 1916, he sailed from Halifax to England aboard the SS Mauretania. While stationed in England, he won two Allied sports competitions and received a gold pocket watch from King George V. He proceeded to France on May 27, 1917, to serve with the 49th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry. Decoteau was killed in action by a sniper at Passchendaele on October 30, 1917.
Service Record Details
Date of Birth: November 19, 1887 (Battleford, Saskatchewan)
Date of Attestation: April 24, 1916 (Edmonton, Alberta)
Age at Enlistment: 29 years old
Height: 5 feet, 10 inches
Weight: 160 pounds
Description: Clear complexion, brown eyes, brown hair. Tattoo on left arm. Church of England.
Home Address: Room 1, University Apartments, Edmonton, Alberta
Trade: Police Sergeant
Next of Kin: Mother, Mrs. Dora Pambrum, living in Battleford, Saskatchewan. Sister, Mrs. Emily Latta, living at 9131 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta.
Theatre of War: Canada, England, France
Casualties / Medical History
- October 30, 1917 – Killed in Action “In the Field Belgium”.
Interesting Details from the Service Record
- October 2, 1916 – In his will, he bequeaths his personal estate “to Emily Latta, 9131 Jasper Ave., Edmonton….” John Lindsay and P.G. Marriott, both soldiers of the 202nd Sportsmen’s Battalion, signed the will as witnesses.
The London Gazette
Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)