- by Shaun Thomas – The Northern View
- posted Feb 11, 2015 at 7:00 AM— updated Feb 11, 2015 at 11:07 AM
The three-time defending All Native Basketball Tournament Seniors Division champions, the Skidegate Saints, are calling for an end to oil and gas industry support of the event which they say is compromising the overall tournament experience.
In a letter dated Jan. 21 and signed by 14 members of the team, the Saints call on the tournament committee to reject “compromising” sponsorship from companies planning to export oil or liquefied natural gas from the North Coast — including current sponsors BG Canada, Pacific NorthWest LNG and Aurora LNG — as well as those planning to construct pipelines to carry the product to the terminal, such as current sponsor TransCanada. There are no companies associated with oil movement sponsoring this year’s tournament.
The Saints, who will look for their fourth straight title this week, claim the presence this sponsorship provides has ruined some of the enjoyment of years past.
“Looking back at photos and memories from last year, we can’t help but be saddened by the propaganda of the oil and gas industry littered throughout the civic centre. These great memories are tainted with the sponsorship signs and imply an acceptance of the industry by all participants and communities,” wrote the team.
“The co-opting of the All Native Basketball Tournament by the oil and gas industry is an attempt to gain a social licence for their ill-conceived projects and is yet another chapter in this continual assault on our culture and way of life … we are in opposition to the fracked liquefied natural gas and oil projects that are being proposed and if playing in the tournament is associated with these projects, then we will have to consider not attending the tournament in the future.”
Part of the expenses incurred by the tournament come from a per diem paid to players and coaches still competing, a number that reached $45,000 in 2013, but the Saints say that is an expense they could do without.
“We are not there for the fancy prizes or per diem, but for the pride of representing our nation,” the team wrote.
When contacted by Black Press, 2014 Best Defensive Player Jason Alsop said the team has not yet had a response from the tournament committee. However, he had nothing further to say on the matter.
“I think the letter speaks for itself and we have nothing else to add,” he said.
All Native Basketball Tournament president Peter Haugan declined to comment on the letter or the request of the Saints to forgo sponsorship from oil and gas companies, but noted the tournament has turned down oil-related sponsorship in the past.