Beginning on Sunday, there will be a lot of unfamiliar faces walking through the streets and businesses of Prince Rupert.
Traffic will be heavier, restaurants will be fuller and there will be an air of activity in the community that will certainly be noticeable to residents.
That’s right, this Sunday is the start of the All Native Basketball Tournament and I, for one, can’t wait for the games to get underway.
Some in Prince Rupert could care less for the tournament and the thousands of extra people it brings to the community and I know a lot of people who avoid the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre at all costs during the tournament.
And that, frankly, is unfortunate. If you’re avoiding the All Native Basketball Tournament or haven’t take the time to go and see what it is all about, you’re missing one of the best annual events in Prince Rupert, hands down.
Yes, basketball is obviously a major focus of the All Native Basketball Tournament. But if you look below the surface of what is some high quality basketball, you’ll find a cultural event that is beyond compare. Unlike other sporting events, you’re not going to see fans booing the other team and you’re not going to see players getting hot under the collar or into each other’s faces. What you’re going to see is a lot of respect between athletes and fans who want their Nation to win the banner but want everyone to succeed to the best of their ability. You’ll see a venue where male and female athletes are given equal billing and people up to their early 60s play for the love of the game and the pride of their community.
If you forgo the games and take a walk through the Dick St. Louis Auditorium, you’ll have a chance to try some traditional food and browse some First Nations art while talking to the artists themselves.
And if you have no interest in any of the above, at least try to make your way to the opening ceremony. This year, between 100 and 250 Haida drummers and dancers will perform and I can guarantee it is not something you’ll want to miss.