Alwyn Morris – An Introduction

In every sporting realm, certain athletes not only compete but also transform the sport. They surpass previously conceived limits, paving new paths of excellence.

One such athlete is Alwyn Morris, a member of the Turtle Clan from the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake. His impact on the competitive canoe-kayak sprint is both inspiring and transformational.

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Alwyn Morris :: Tom Longboat :: Bill Isaacs :: Collette Bourgonje :: Bryan Trottier :: Waneek Horn-Miller

The Role of Influential Indigenous Athletes

Shaping National Identity

Alwyn’s Olympic Gold medal performance not only skyrocketed him to the pinnacle of his sport, but it also redefined the narrative surrounding Indigenous athletes. His victory sparked a surge of inspiration across Canada, giving rise to a newfound understanding of Indigenous talent in sports. His success also ignited discussions about diversity and representation in athletics, both domestically and internationally.

A Beacon of Inspiration

Alwyn’s triumphant journey serves as an impactful story of an Indigenous athlete navigating and succeeding in the predominantly non-Indigenous world of sports. His story resonates with many Indigenous youths, igniting dreams, fostering a sense of belonging, and positively representing their cultural identity.

Early Life and Influences

Molding a Future Champion

Alwyn’s upbringing under the close supervision and mentorship of his grandparents laid the foundation for his future accomplishments. His grandfather, Tom Morris, an accomplished athlete, played an instrumental role in his formative years. The bond between Alwyn and his grandfather deepened when Tom fell ill, and Alwyn moved in to care for him.

Alwyn Morris as a Child with his Grandpa Tom
Alwyn Morris was raised by his grandfather, Tom Morris, whom he considered a huge influence and inspiration in his life. Courtesy of Alwyn Morris

Paddling Against the Current

Initially, Alwyn didn’t envision kayaking as a career; he was more inclined toward ice hockey, lacrosse, and baseball.

Alwyn Morris as a child on a hockey team
The “Caughnawaga Indians”, a pee-wee hockey team from Kahnawake, after winning the tournament in the 1969-1970 season. Alwyn Morris (front row, second from right) holds the Most Sportsmanlike Player trophy. Courtesy of Studio O. Allard Inc./Library and Archives Canada/Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development funds

However, circumstances changed when a rowing club opened near his home. Despite being physically smaller than most athletes and facing discouragement from others, Alwyn took the plunge, fully committing to the new sport. He and his grandfather shared a belief in his potential to become a champion.

The Rising Star: A Glimpse of Victory

The Breakthrough

In 1975, Alwyn’s dedication bore fruit when he clinched the Canadian National Junior Championship title. The win brought him into the national spotlight and offered him an opportunity to compete for a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team.

Harnessing Setbacks for Growth

Alwyn’s initial attempt to secure a spot on the team was unsuccessful. However, he didn’t let this setback deter him. Instead, he relocated to Burnaby, British Columbia, in pursuit of top-notch training facilities and coaches. There, he met his future Olympic partner, Hugh Fisher. Together, they trained rigorously, spurred on by a symbolic source of inspiration – a bald eagle frequently sighted during their training sessions.

Triumph Amidst Tragedy

Before Alwyn’s Olympic dream came to fruition, he suffered a significant loss — his grandfather’s death. Instead of succumbing to grief, he channelled it into his training, using it as fuel to intensify his commitment to his dream.

Unforgettable Victory: The 1984 Olympic Games

Alwyn Morris Rowing at the 1984 Olympics
Canada’s Hugh Fisher (right) and Alwyn Morris compete in a kayaking event at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. (CP PHOTO/ COC/ Crombie McNeil) Hugh Fisher (droite) et Alwyn Morris du Canada participent à une épreuve de kayak aux Jeux olympiques de Los Angeles de 1984. (Photo PC/AOC)

The 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles marked the culmination of Alwyn’s journey. He and Hugh Fisher defied odds to secure the Olympic Gold medal in the K-2 1000m event. As he stood on the podium, Alwyn held high an Eagle Feather – a tribute to his late grandfather and his Mohawk heritage. This heartfelt moment has resonated far beyond his personal victory, symbolizing the strength and potential of Indigenous athletes.

Alwyn Morris
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Sports Career Highlights


National junior title in K-1 500m and 1,000m


Won K-1 1,000m at Continental Cup

Won 4-K 500m at the Zaandam regatta


Won 4-K and K-1 at Zaandam regatta


Held national title in K-1 1,000m

1981, 1983

Held national title in K-1 500m


World Championship – Silver medal in the K-2 1,000m (with Hugh Fisher)


World Championships – Bronze medal in the K-2 550m (with Hugh Fisher)

Alwyn Morris 1983 Olympic Bronze Medal
Alwyn Morris 1983 Olympic Bronze Medal


Los Angeles Olympic Games – Gold medal in K-2 1,000m and Bronze medal in K-2 500m (with Hugh Fisher)

Alwyn Morris 1984 Olympic Gold Medal
Alwyn Morris 1984 Olympic Gold Medal

Recognition and Post-Olympic Achievements

Being recognized for his extraordinary athletic contributions, he was honoured with the Indspire Awards, previously known as the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, specifically in the field of sports. 

He also secured the Tom Longboat Award in 1977 and 1984, a prestigious accolade acknowledging the exceptional contributions of Aboriginal athletes to Canadian sports. His commendable achievements in canoeing, along with his ongoing work with youngsters through entities like Health and Welfare Canada’s Native Drug Abuse Programme, earned him a place in the Order of Canada on December 23, 1985. In the year 2000, he was proudly inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

His stellar athletic accomplishments resonated deeply within Indigenous communities throughout Canada. Echoing this sentiment, Joe Delaronde, an employee of the Mohawk Council, expressed his awe, saying it was beyond his wildest imagination that someone from his community could attain global prominence.

In the aftermath of the 1990 Oka Crisis, Morris embarked on his political journey, focusing mainly on matters pertaining to Indigenous self-governance. He has been a fervent member of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and has offered his expertise as a policy advisor on issues related to aboriginal rights and land.

Motivated by his aspiration to launch sports programs to uplift Indigenous athletes and young people, Morris played a pivotal role in establishing the Aboriginal Sport Circle in 1995. This national organization caters to the interests of Aboriginal sport. He currently holds the position of the chairperson of the Aboriginal Sport Circle.

Alwyn Morris Aboriginal Sport Circle Logo
Alwyn Morris Aboriginal Sport Circle + Tom Longboat Awards

On December 8, 2009, in a moment of symbolic significance, Morris held the Olympic torch aloft as he ran through Kahnawake, Quebec, marking his participation in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games torch relay.

Alwyn Morris Olympic torch relay

Alwyn is known for his extensive work in support of Indigenous communities.

Alwyn Morris Fundraiser Event 2014
Alwyn Morris supporting a fundraising event at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. Courtesy of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Alwyn Morris and the Olympic Hall Of Fame

In 2000 Alwyn Morris was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Alwyn Morris at the 2019 Canada Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Alwyn Morris at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame’s 2019 Induction Celebrations. Courtesy of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Alwyn Morris: A Legacy Etched in Gold

Alwyn Morris’s story is a vivid testament to what can be achieved through tenacity, perseverance, and self-belief. His accomplishments are not just personal triumphs, but a beacon of inspiration, particularly for Indigenous athletes. His journey sends a powerful message that success in sports is attainable, regardless of one’s background. By transcending societal barriers, Alwyn Morris has left an enduring legacy for future generations of athletes, Indigenous and otherwise. His story continues to inspire, fostering a broader understanding and acceptance of diversity in sports.

Alwyn Morris with Hugh Fisher 1984 Olympic games podium
Canada’s Hugh Fisher (left) and Alwyn Morris celebrate a gold medal win in the men’s 2x kayak event at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. (CP PHOTO/ COC/) Hugh Fisher (gauche) et Alwyn Morris du Canada célèbrent après avoir remporté une médaille d’or en kayak aux Jeux olympiques de Los Angeles de 1984. (Photo PC/AOC)