SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Americans coming into Canada for All Native Tournament
By Roberta Aiken


November 22, 2005

The Annual All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert is one massive gathering running into its 47th consecutive year. Teams representing T'simshian, Haida, Tlingit, Nisga, Nuxalk, Haisla and many more nations all come together for a solid week of Basketball in 4 divisions. This is one time out of the year you can find thousands of people gathering for one cause ­ the love of the game. Not to mention being able to see family and make new friends.
When the very first team from Alaska, Metlakatla Merchants, started attending back in 1967. The Americans are treated just horribly by our Canadian Customs Agents in Prince Rupert. Lined up for hours with drug dogs going through the entire entourage, these people numbering into the hundreds, have a right to be here in the North west of British Columbia. Their families most all originate from the T'simshian or Haida Nations of British Columbia.
What constitutes such extreme treatment from the Canadian Government?
At any other given time you can travel on the Alaska Marine Highway System and you will never witness the same treatment that these people suffer each and every February while trying to enter Canada.  In fact I urge you all to go down and witness the disrespect that is shown to our families trying to come into their original home lands. That is embarrassing to say the least - what a welcoming party. Right! In fact last year the bunch that was turned back literally were forced to have to ride that ferry all the way to Seattle and back up to Ketchikan before they could be home. This is not right.
Most of us, as humans, have done something we regret. We all have had to humble ourselves and learn from those mistakes. Yet how long do we have to suffer and pay for it? Sure an impaired or DWI or any offense was a tough one but when most of these people have lived a good honest and clean lifestyle for at least 7 years since their minor offenses. This is again wrong! Why do they/we have to be treated like terrorists murderers or pedophiles should be? I can see not permitting entrance into Canada on those regards ­ But come on these people are our very own family members and have a god given right to come across that border with no such harassment. They work hard as teams and individuals to raise money to attend what is to some of them their annual vacation. Again only to be greeted with such disgrace I would like to challenge any Government officials to come out and see this. All these people want to do is come play ball, see family and friends and have a great time. Not to mention they spend thousands of dollars in the City of Prince Rupert where the economy has been slipping in past years.

You tell me why this situation has to be this way? I along with many others challenge our government to make the transition more welcoming to our Alaskan/American families. Bring that Jay Treaty in and Sign it Canada ­ you are denying our rights here.

Roberta Aiken
Skidegate, BC - Canada



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Ketchikan, Alaska