The All Native Basketball Tournament is here and once again thousands of fans, players and coaches will be filling the streets and stores of Prince Rupert.
The tournament is undoubtedly one of the biggest events on the North Coast, both in terms of the number of people and the amount of money it brings. While some may not be the biggest fans of the tournament, it is something that Prince Rupert should be thankful to host.
Aside from pretty much, if not literally, every hotel room being booked and filled, the people who come to town are going to need food and drink. For others coming from more remote villages along the coast, shopping in Prince Rupert offers a chance to compare firsthand prices and products that simply aren’t available in their community.
The fact that this tournament has firmly established itself in Prince Rupert instead of moving around like other large sporting events is certainly a benefit for the community as well. Talk to longtime fans and players and they have their favourite Prince Rupert places for food and fun and they look forward to returning to them year in and year out.
But the economic impact is just a portion of what makes the tournament great. The tournament further helps portray Prince Rupert as a place for First Nations to gather and celebrate their culture. The tournament is something players look forward to for the opportunity to meet up with old friends, some they only see once a year, just as much as for the chance to win it all.
This year marks the 10th time I will have covered the All Native Basketball Tournament in some way, shape or form. Covering a seven-day tournament that runs for 15 hours per day in some cases is undoubtedly a lot of work, but the All Native Basketball Tournament has become one of the highlights of the year. Every year there is a different story that plays out at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre and I see a lot of familiar faces on the court.
It’s tournament time, and I for one am looking forward to the week ahead.