Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A celebration of sport, culture and friendship

The All Native Basketball Tournament got underway over the weekend with a gala celebration at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, as the Russell Gamble gymnasium featured a gathering of the nations that have arrived in Prince Rupert for the 50th year of this historic tournament.

The tournament which is much more than just a spectacular sporting event has brought the city to life as participants arrived and got settled in for the week long run of basketball and friendship.

A lucrative ten days or so for the City of Prince Rupert, as stores, hotels, restaurants and clubs all find a stream of customers, eager to sample their services in between games and events.

The Daily News featured a review of the opening ceremony from the weekend, with a front page, headline story in Monday's paper.

Massive contingent of drummers set the rhythm for celebration of sport and culture
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, February 09, 2009
Pages one and three

The All-Native Basketball Tournament got off to a pounding start Friday as the cultural day, packed with North Coast tradition, was on display.

An estimated combined two hundred drummers and singers thundered through the Russell Gamble Gymnasium, electrifying the on-lookers during the morning's event.

One impressed person was Lax Kw'alaams hereditary chief Buddy Helin, who waxed lyrical about the wonderful ceremony.

"I have never seen so many Native dancers - we've never had some many dancers here," said Helin.

Helin wanted to remind others about the value the tournament brings to the community, both in financial terms and culturally, and said he would remind all attendees that this was an event to be respected.

He said locals should remember that each person enjoying the tournament is spending at least $10 per day and that there should be respect for the customers.

He also reminded locals that there are people who live in Rupert who want to enjoy life too, and that should be respected as well.

"I hope no one brings dope or booze to what is going on here and if I could get that across, then I'll be happy," said Helin.

For 10-year-old Port Edward elementary student Thomas Lavallee, the ceremony was an awesome experience, but he said he was an old pro at the ANBT drumming ceremony.
"I've been involved in the tournament 20 times," he said.
Joining Lavallee and Helin were the eagles, the ravens, the bears and wolves all represented and so were each community, from Haida to Haisla, and Gitxann to Nisga'a and of course the host Tsimshian.

The songs they sang were well-known trade songs that would be performed back when the nations would exchange goods on their trading missions.

ANBT President Clarence Martin said that the songs represented a common thread with which the tournament binds the communities.

But it was Martin, along with the ANBT cultural events planning team, who really brought the event together.

When it came to pay respects, Murray Smith, the guest emcee started with Martin and the whole board for their fine works in putting this year's event together.

"We've seen how hard you have worked and we see your vision with how big this would become and we want to honor you and thank you for doing all this," said Smith.

Next, it was game time and the games will be played all week at the civic centre where some tickets may still remain.

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