If the All Native Basketball Tournament (ANBT) executives have their way, there will be no mixing basketball with politics at February’s tournament.
LNG-related T-shirts and memorabilia are banned from the tournament, which is scheduled for Feb. 12-18, according to a letter sent by the ANBT board to the Skidegate Senior Saints.
“The 2016 political agenda of ‘No LNG’ blue T-shirts and banners will not be tolerated by the ANBT committee this year,” said the letter, which was dated Dec. 6.
The board directed the statement to the Saints, who have won five senior men’s championships in a row, because the team wore anti-LNG T-shirts in protest at the last tournament.
“Players, coaches/managers wearing political agenda garments will be asked to remove or be disqualified from the tournament,” stated the letter.
The Saints took a stand at the last tournament because LNG-related companies were partly sponsoring the ANBT and the team didn’t approve. Not only did they wear the blue T-shirts that read ‘No LNG’ at the tournament, but they also wore them in Haida Gwaii when welcoming the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in September.
In addition to the letter, the executives also wrote a post on Facebook, saying the board passed a motion in September that ANBT will step away from LNG sponsorship for the upcoming tournament.
“This decision was made because of the contentious issues on both sides. We hope all teams can just attend to play basketball,” read the post.
The ANBT board declined an interview about its decision to cut off LNG sponsorship and the letter to the Saints. As well, efforts to reach out to members of the Saints were not successful.