After sixty years of All Native Basketball Tournaments, the committee has landed on the theme: A year of reflection.
Looking back over the years it’s incredible how this tournament started in Old Aiyansh, a remote and challenging venue to travel to, and how it migrated to Prince Rupert blossoming at the civic centre where there are two courts hosting four divisions.
This event is exciting for the whole region. BC Ferries has stepped up to increase service for the higher volume of traffic until Feb. 21. Lax Kw’alaams members from the village, Prince Rupert and all over the province are uniting for the opening ceremonies on Feb. 10. Businesses from the area are ramping up for more customers. Cultural food and art vendors are preparing for the daily set up. Worth a visit to the food court to sample cockles chow mein, herring roe on kelp, salmon hash, clam fritters (always the first to go) and soapberry ice cream.
Each year, the pride for Indigenous culture and identity also seems to grow. We noticed, while putting together this year’s 72-page souvenir program, that one team has shifted away from its former colonial name. Formerly Port Simpson, the intermediate team is now going by the Hoyas, representing Lax Kw’alaams.
Congratulations to Lax Kw’alaams members, Wild William Wesley and Russell Mather, for being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Hydaburg’s senior team also made the hall after winning 13 championships in 15, incredible. They’ll be looking to come out on top after placing second at the 2018 tournament, when they played without two key players, Vince Edenshaw and Greg Frisby, who were detained by the Canada Border Services Agency.
Both Edenshaw and Frisby are back on this year’s roster. They may want to pay a visit to the border agent this year before the tournament kicks off to ensure they get to see the final games through.
But what is the All Native Tournament without a bit of drama and excitement either from the politicians, the players or the fans.
Let the games begin.
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