Building Unity through Sports and Culture
Rhonda Lee McIsaac
The Skidegate Saints hosted Pacific Unity U23 Summer Series from July 31 to August 4. They used connections made at the World Indigenous Basketball Tournament to invite teams from Gitxsan Nation, Pioneers Aboriginal Basketball Club of Western Australia, and Maori Te Tai Tokerau Maori Men’s Team from Aotearoa New Zealand.
The teams played with unity, cultural pride, and good sportsmanship throughout the four-day tournament. Players and community members converged on Naa Gaagudgiikyagangs George Brown Recreation Centre for quick and physically demanding games.
“All our guys played together well and represented their families and communities so well,” said Maori coach Raymond Cameron after the awards were handed out. “I’d like to thank everyone for making us all feel so welcome and so special. We look forward to coming back,” Cameron said before being pulled away for photographs and more handshakes with the lingering crowd.
According to Cameron, the Maori team “came to win after running a bit short last year.” The team’s effort paid off and they placed first this year. Pioneers placed second, Saints third, and Gitxsan fourth. All Stars were Caysen McDirmid (Gitxsan), Jesse Barnes (Haida), Aaron Kiering (Pioneers) and Josiah Albert (Maori). Tulraha Cooper (Maori) won MVP.
This is the second Summer Series the Skidegate Saints have hosted since 2018. Co-organizer Xyaalaga Dagwiiya Desi Collinson felt the event was a success. “I appreciate all the work that everyone does to make this happen,” he said to the teams and community members in the gym who supported the series.