In the fall of 1959. A group of First Nations athletes met with their sponsors, Irwin Garfield of the Empress Hotel. And the owner of the Royal Hotel, they brought up the idea of having an Easter First Nations Basketball Tournament. The two sponsors then partnered up with the local Basketball Association, and together the All Native Basketball Tournament was born!
The First Nations athletes were asked to contact their communities and get a commitment for their teams to attend. The organizing of the tournament was left up to the Basketball Association and Irwin Garfield. Al Kelsey was named First Chairman.
The first tournament was held at Prince Ruperts old Civic Center located on 5th Avenue, where the Government liquor store is today in Prince Rupert. The organizers had to ask the Prince Rupert business’s for anything they needed on credit. After the tournament was over the gate money paid off every business and gave each team $200. And the last $200 was given to the Prince Rupert Basketball Association for all of their help.
Since it was a success it became an annual event! The tournament moved to February from March once the roe herring season started so that fisherman could participate and be spectators.
We are happy to see great interest from as far south as Ahousat on Vancouver Island and to the north to southeast Alaska, Hydaburg, Kake, and Metlakatla. We look forward to new teams wanting to come. This Tournament started with Village Pride and it is the back bone of this event. It is what keeps this event different from all the other Tournaments.
All Native Basketball Tournament
Feb. 7-13, 2021