Representatives from the federal government officially acknowledged multiple trailblazing players at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto Wednesday, marking the breaking of racial barriers in the NHL as an event of national historic significance in Canada.

Five gamers-- Paul Jacobs, Henry "Elmer" Maracle, Larry Kwong, Fred Sasakamoose, and Willie O'Ree-- were all honoured for their efforts to break through longstanding bias that prevented players who were Indigenous, Chinese Canadian, Black and from other races from playing professional hockey.In a video statement offered by his child Chandra O'Ree, Willie O'Ree stated he was humbled by the commemoration.

" This is an extraordinary honour, thank you for this recognition," said O'Ree, who was the NHL's very first Black player. He laced up his skates for the very first time in the league for the Boston Bruins back in 1958.

Gabriel Michael, grandson of Fred Sasakamoose, who was one of the very first Indigenous professional athletes to play in the NHL, also appeared at the event Monday.

A previous member of the Chicago Blackhawks, and among the first Indigenous professional hockey players, Fred Sasakamoose is seen during an event in his honour at an Edmonton Oilers video game in 2017.( Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Sasakamoose died after contracting COVID-19 2 years earlier, and it has actually been tough for his household without him, Michael stated.

" It's just excellent to be here; it assists with our sorrow," he said. "He's been with us for the last 2 years, in our hearts."

Michael said he couldn't envision what his grandfather should have gone through to play professional hockey in the 1950s, given the sheer quantity of bias he would have dealt with.

" I give him the most respect," he said.According to a federal government press release, national historical classifications like this one are indicated to highlight defining moments in Canada's history. It goes on to note that racial discrimination and bias existed in gamer advancement programs across Canada through the years, and depending on where they were in Canada, some players were required to play in different leagues or on segregated groups." In acknowledging both the victories and the struggles that have actually led us to the Canada these days, national historic classifications help us review how to develop a thoughtful and inclusive society for present and future generations," the release reads.WATCH " This is an amazing honour, thank you for this acknowledgment," stated O'Ree, who was the NHL's first Black player. "He's been with us for the last two years, in our hearts." I give him the most respect," he said.According to a federal government news release, nationwide historical classifications like this one are implied to show specifying minutes in Canada's history. It goes on to note that racial discrimination and prejudice existed in gamer advancement programs throughout Canada through the years, and depending on where they were in Canada, some players were forced to play in separate leagues or on segregated groups.