Harry Manson inducted into Sports Hall of Fame

Thu. Jul. 2/15

Local First Nations soccer legend's plaque raised alongside country's best at COP


Harry Manson was a man who delivered a vision and more than 100 years on, he's received the country's top sports recognition.

The Snuneymuxw soccer great was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, a tribute to his legacy of breaking down the racial barriers between local First Nations and white teams to unite them as one.

Manson's photo, inside a glass plaque, was placed on the Wall of Fame at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, with numerous family members on-hand for his induction ceremony.

Manson's latest induction in a matter of weeks follows up those from the Soccer Hall of Fame in Ontario, as well as the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame.

His grandson Dean, 62, said it was a proud moment.

"This is his third one and to see his picture up there with all the other athletes was so overwhelming. It took 100 years but he's finally there and it's such an awesome feeling for all of the family - bigger than awesome. He just loved to play soccer."

Manson was known as "Xulsimalt," and captained the indigenous Nanaimo Wanderers soccer team, a dominant club that posted numerous wins from 1897-1904, including a city championship.

In 1898 alongside James Wilks, Manson became the first indigenous athletes to compete in a provincial championship soccer match and lined up next to numerous players from Europe.

Vancouver-based soccer historian Robert Janning nominated Manson for the award and described the ceremony as "electrifying."

Janning now wants to set up The Friends of Harry Manson soccer tournament to be held later this year in the Nanaimo.

"The idea behind it is to honour Harry Manson's legacy and have Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal soccer teams competing in the same tournament and overcome the segregation," said Janning, who believes the latter still exists.

Manson's other grandson Gary still coaches the Snuneymuxw Snipers team which plays in a native league "up and down B.C.'s coast," says Janning.

"This is 2015 Canada and they still compete separately - I don't think that's right," he said. "I know a lot of the First Nations players would benefit from some inclusivity."

Janning says he would like the tournament to be small to begin with and include four teams.

Manson's great granddaughters Mia and Summer also attended the ceremony, as did Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay.