Ten years running for cultural warming basketball tournament

Kitamaat Open basketball tournament begins on April 4, a joint-effort of the Haisla Nation Council and District of Kitimat.

This year marks 10 years for the Cultural Warming Kitamaat Open Basketball Tournament.

Games begin on April 4 and run to April 6.

The games first began in 2005 (when both the Men’s and Women’s Kitamaat teams made it to the finals) and, according to the head organizer on the Haisla end Brent Robinson, the tournament has always been about their theme of ‘cultural warming.’

“The actual reason the tournament started is the District [of Kitimat] and the Village [Haisla Nation Council], they were looking to do some kind of event together.”

He said seeing the popularity of the All Native Tournament in Prince Rupert inspired local organizers to bring the event to the Kitimat area.

Games are traditionally played at both Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School and the Haisla Recreation Centre in Kitamaat Village.

Over 10 years the tournament has grown and Robinson says it always gets better.

“We used to scramble for teams…it took times for brand awareness,” he said, whereas now teams are beginning to come in from all over the province.

They keep the rules of the tournament loose to build on their effort to bridge cultures, and to that end anyone, young or old, First Nations or not, can participate in the tournament if they choose. The tournament’s official website is at kitimatbasketball.com.