Nisga’a Nation hosts First Nations youth in one of the largest basketball tournaments in Canada

B.C.’s Jr. All Native 2024 showcases communities’ young athletes.

Nearly 90 basketball teams represented their Indigenous communities at the annual Jr. All-Native Tournament or J.A.N.T.

In an interview with APTN News, Evan Gabriel and Eli Hall said they were proud to represent the Nuxalk Nation, which is located B.C.’s central coast.

“Lots of practices, lots of fundraising, it’s been lots of fundraising, it’s crazy,” said Gabriel.

The tournament took place from March 18 to March 22.

The Nisga’a Nation was the host this year, but they held the activities in Terrace, B.C.

Due to the size of the games, smaller communities find it challenging to host due to accommodations and venues. The Nisga’a were pleased to hold the event in Tsimshian territory.

“This year we have 85 teams in four divisions, and we have about 1,320 athletes here,” said Michael Davis, one of the managers and organizers of the Nisga’a Nation. “That’s just the athletes, so you think about the managers, coaches, and chaperones, so there is quite a bit of people in town this week.”

According to Davis, J.A.N.T allows First Nation communities to come together.

“We like to gather; this is a gathering of people where a lot of the coaches, the managers they played before, and they see players from other communities; it’s a chance to connect again,” he said.

Snuneymuxw First Nation and Gingolx of Nisga’a Nation play under the 17 boys division at JANT 2024. Photo: Lee Wilson/APTN.

The arenas were packed with fans cheering on athletes and volunteers, ensuring the games were successful.

The youth tested their basketball skill against other nations in the double knockout tournament until one team was crowned champion.

Gabriel and Hall shared that they enjoyed playing in the tournament.

“It’s pretty fun to see and play ball with other nations,” Gabriel said.

Davis stated the tournament is not just about basketball but also about improving youth mental health.

“We are trying to bring inclusion in and build wellness through sport; that is a great way to learn, ” he said.

The J.A.N.T host  announced Kelowna as the location for the Jr. All Native 2025

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