The Haida Nation gathered to prepare its teams for the 57th All Native Basketball Tournament this Tuesday, February 3 at the Old Massett Community Hall in Gaaw. With the leadership of Harmony Williams and Elizabeth Moore the community encouraged players throughout the evening with speeches, drumming, singing, and good food.
“We want to let our teams know how much support they have from their communities going into this tournament!” explained kil tlaats ‘gaa, Peter Lantin President of the Haida Nation to the large crowd before introducing the teams and their members. “We want you all to know we’re taking care of one another when we go over to Prince Rupert. We’re all there for one another.”
The Haida Nation is sending six teams to the All Native Basketball Tournament this year including: 2015 first place masters’ division winners, Team Haida from Hydaburg; 2015 second place masters’ division winners, the Watchmen from Gaaw; Haida Wild in the women’s division from Gaaw; the Raiders in the seniors’ division from Gaaw; the Warriors in the intermediates’ division from Gaaw; and 2015’s four-time first-place seniors division winners, the Saints from HlGaagilda.
At the rally each team from Gaaw took time to recognize an official ‘biggest fan’ including Graham Wilson for the Watchmen, Henry Williams for Haida Wild, Charlotte Marks for the Raiders, and Frank Collison for the Warriors.
“Each team tries its best and plays with pride and dignity,” said Watchmen team manager Memory Brown. “We’re going to make you all proud, I promise! To all the supporters of our fundraisers we’d like to appreciate all of you. Haawa! Our team does not want to come in second this year, and we’ve been working very hard!”
While the basketball gathering had people singing and cheering at Tuesday’s rally, players and fans from Haida Gwaii missed out on Sunday’s opening ceremonies in Prince Rupert as ferries were delayed.
The tournament’s Sunday opening ceremony featured the dancers, singers, and drummers of Metlakatla, Alaska. The ferry delay also meant that many Haida were unable to join Massett women players and other coastal nations at the opening ceremonies in a player-led initiative to protest fracking and the shipment of liquified natural gas through coastal waters.
The Council of the Haida Nation will once again be following the Haida basketball teams closely and Team Communications will be posting photos, scores and stats throughout the week.