The Haida Wild women’s team from Old Massett entered the Feb. 7

Saints told to leave political agenda at home

After stepping away from LNG sponsorships, organizers of this year’s All-Native Basketball Tournament want no anti-LNG protests this year.

After stepping away from LNG sponsorships, organizers of this year’s All-Native Basketball Tournament want the Skidegate Saints to leave their ‘No LNG’ shirts at home.

In September, the tournament’s board of directors decided they will no longer accept any sponsorships from liquefied natural gas companies.

“This decision was made because of the contentious issues on both sides,” said the ANBT committee in a recent Facebook post.

“We hope all teams can just attend to play basketball.”

Committee members declined to speak about the change.

The Skidegate Saints considered boycotting last year’s tournament over the LNG sponsorships, but chose to go and protest instead, entering the court with blue ‘No LNG’ shirts and waving banners.

Pacific NorthWest LNG, Aurora LNG, and the BG Group were all major sponsors of last year’s tournament, and for several years it has featured LNG company banners, LNG-branded print and radio ads, even LNG noisemakers.

On Dec. 6, All-Native organizers sent a letter to the Skidegate Saints saying they hope the team will bring its talent to the Feb. 12 to 18 tournament in Prince Rupert, but leave the LNG issue at home.

“The ANBT committee respectfully encourages the team to not bring a political agenda to the 2017 ANBT,” says the letter, noting that the tournament is held on traditional Tsimshian territory.

Any players, coaches, or managers who wear “political agenda garments” will be asked to remove them or be disqualified, the letter said.

Organizers also said they want to see the Saints back on the court to defend their title the Skidegate Saints have won five straight senior championships, something the ANBT committee said has “been great for the tournament, the fans, and your home community.”

At press time, the Saints had not yet decided how to respond.