British Columbia

All-Native Basketball tournament bans political messaging

Players coming to the All-Native Basketball tournament have been asked to leave the politics at home, according to a letter sent by tournament organizers in anticipation of the February event in Prince Rupert, B.C.

Last year, some participants wore T-shirts and held banners with anti-LNG messaging

The Skidegate Saints and other participants have been asked to leave political messaging at home when they attend the All-Native Basketball Tournament in February. Last year, some tournament participants sported T-shirts to protest LNG. (Marie Octaviano)

Players participating in the All-Native Basketball tournament have been asked to leave the politics at home, according to a letter sent by tournament organizers in anticipation of the February event in Prince Rupert, B.C.

Last year, some participants in the tournament wore blue T-shirts and raised banners with an anti-LNG message. Many of the major sponsors of last year's tournament were from the oil and gas sector.

The Skidegate Saints were one of the most vocal opponents.

At the time, the Saints expressed concern their stance would get them kicked out of the tournament, but the team was allowed to participate and eventually won the championship.

This year will be different.

The board announced on Facebook it will have no LNG sponsors for the 2017 games saying it was a "contentious issues on both sides."

In a Dec. 6 letter, however, All-Native Basketball Tournament Board member Nang Laay gass (Willis Parnell) states any players, coaches or managers wearing political garments will be asked to remove the garments or be disqualified from the tournament this year.

Port Alberni's Francine Charleson, a member of the Hesquiaht Descendents, wore a T-shirt with an anti-LNG message at the tournament's qualification rounds in November.

She says she was shocked when she was asked to remove the shirt by a tournament official.

"I took my shirt off [but] I didn't feel comfortable anymore. I felt someone was telling me what to wear and what not to wear on the court."

The All-Native Basketball tournament is scheduled to take place from Feb.12 to 18, 2017.

With files from Daybreak North

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