Rhonda Lee McIsaac
Gaad Skaak’adang basketball and clan competition were all the rage and it was done with respect, solid sportsmanship, and active volunteerism at the 20th Annual Clan Tournament, January 8-11. The tournament has long been a way to build positive relationships, promote community, and help all Saints basketball teams fundraise for the XaaydaGa Gud Kan.gudang All Native Tournament in Prince Rupert (ANBT will take place February 9-15).
This year the 20th Annual Clan Tournament had eight clans enter teams. Notable firsts include the Naikun clan who had never entered a team before. Four women’s teams were also entered. The women’s competition was aggressive and playful throughout the tournament. During the men’s games, slippery court floors due to humidity, possibly of salt mixing with water, and grease from the fried bread caused slips and falls. The men persevered with each slam jump shot, dunk, block, and pivot.
Between games, other events took place within the tournament. In a heartfelt tribute to his cousin, Justin Moody, tournament organizer Xyallaga Daaguuyah Desmond Collison characterized Justin as a role model. “He was trying to turn negative energy into positive energy. The energy here in the gym, what we get from the Clan Tournament, what these young women and young men give — so much emotion. They’re so proud of who they are and of their clans.” He advised everyone to, “Absorb this energy and use it for the rest of your life. The feeling you get here this weekend. Always remember, a negative experience can be turned into a positive,” he shared with a packed gym.
The energy here in the gym, what we get from the Clan Tournament, what these young women and young men give — so much emotion. They’re so proud of who they are and of their clans.” He advised everyone to, “Absorb this energy and use it for the rest of your life. The feeling you get here this weekend. Always remember, a negative experience can be turned into a positive,” he shared with a packed gym.
As a part of the cultural sharing, a drum circle formed as singers and drummers joined Gidansda, hereditary leader of Skedans clan in song. As the circle came to an end, a blanket was put down on the floor for community donations to go towards the Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary leaders fight against an LNG pipeline impacting their yintah territory
Closing ceremonies wrapped up quickly to accommodate travellers in a blustery winter storm. The Southern Ravens took the championship in a 1-point game. The top teams in the men’s division were: Juus, Ts’aahl, Skedans, and T’aanuu. The winning teams donned their championship hoodies amid cheers from fans and clamouring photographers alike.
Haal Kuun sqeet jaad Jamie Mould, Old Massett Ravens Ga K’uulas captain looks forward to returning next year. “I feel really proud of how far Women’s basketball has come on Haida Gwaii. It was a great feeling to be a part of the first Ladies Division at the Clan tournament,” she says.
Women’s basketball has seen a growth in Naang LlGaayGalang players and in the level of play on the court. One case in point is Zoey Collinson who will represent the Haida Nation as part of U16 girls Team BC at the North American Indigenous Games in Kjipuktuk Halifax and Millbrook First Nation July 12-19, 2020.
Basketball is culture is the tagline for the 20th annual Clan Tournament, and along with that brings positivity and pride.