Regina will host National Aboriginal Hockey Championships for first time in 2020
2020 NAHC will be the fourth time the tournament is held in Sask.
Organizers of an Indigenous hockey tournament say they're proud to bring the prestigious event to Regina.
The National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) will be coming to the Saskatchewan capital for the first time in the tournament's history, which will take place at the Co-operators Centre in May 2020.
Ken Thomas, director of sports, culture and recreation at the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, spoke today at an event in Regina in which the tournament logo was unveiled.
"It brings pride to the communities, the First Nation communities, the Métis communities," he said, noting that some players in this tournament have gone on to play in the NHL.
Seattle Thunderbirds goaltender Roddy Ross, who was drafted by the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers in June, has played in three editions of the NAHC.
Ross, a Meadow Lake product and member of the Canoe Lake Cree Nation, said he has learned much from this tournament, including how many First Nations people are watching people like him.
"That's something that I've always liked and I think that's one thing that's helped a lot."
More than 500 elite bantam and midget Indigenous hockey players from across Canada will compete in male and female divisions in next year's tournament.
The championships are also coming back to a province that has become accustomed to doing well in the tournament.
The Saskatchewan men's team has nine gold medals, the most in tournament history. Meanwhile, Team Saskatchewan has claimed the title in the female division in four of the last six years, including the 2019 championship.
Congrats Team SASKATCHEWAN ~ Host for the 2020 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Regina! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NAHC2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NAHC2020</a> 🏒🥅 <a href="https://t.co/cWB6vrHiTT">pic.twitter.com/cWB6vrHiTT</a>—@nahc2019
Host committee chair Morley Watson said the tournament is good for Indigenous youth.
"In the last few years, I think we've begun to realize how important sports can be in the lives of all people, particularly of our Indigenous and First Nation youth," he said.
Watson said athletes on the Saskatchewan teams have to be in good standing with their respective schools in order to be allowed to play.
"You have to have certain grades in school, as well as attendance," he said. "So our young people realize that."
Watson estimates the event will attract between 5,000 and 6,000 visitors to Regina.