While track and field is the most popular event for the Tlu-piich Games, the three-on-three basketball tournament is a close favourite too. NEWS FILE PHOTO

Tlu-piich Games start Aug. 7 in Port Alberni

Six-day event draws 1,800 Indigenous participants

More than 1,800 Indigenous athletes and their families and supporters will descend on the Alberni Valley next week for the annual Nuu-chah-nulth Tlu-piich Games.

“Since 2009 when we revived the Games our focus has been more on family events for young athletes coming up, to introduce sport to them and provide an opportunity for them to have a great event so they have lifelong memories,” Games co-ordinator Richard Samuel said.

The grand march and opening ceremonies take place Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 5 p.m. at Bob Dailey Stadium, where track and field events are taking place Aug. 7–8.

A culture night at the Hupacasath House of Gathering at 5500 Ahahswinis Dr., starting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. “Culture night is open to anyone to come and share their songs and dances,” Samuel said. It is also open to the public.

The Tlu-piich Games, which run until Aug. 12, also feature slopitch at Gyro Recreation park, canoe races at Canal Waterfront Park and three-on-three basketball Aug. 8–9 at Maht Mahs Gym.

Registration for the three-on-three basketball is happening now: the event will play out over two days this year, Games worker Jaylynn Lucas explained. The 17 and under event is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 8 at Maht Mahs Gym, while the 13 and under as well as 17 and over (senior) events take place Thursday, Aug. 9 at Maht Mahs Gym. Teams are co-ed and usually within the same First Nation, Lucas added.

“This year our basketball tournament is different,” Samuel said. “Normally it’s an entire day event but we’ve split it up. We found it’s too much for participants to wait for their basketball games in the gym.”

Games assistant Deborah Potter has been working on a “language hunt” taking place on Thursday, Aug. 9 at the family picnic, 11 a.m. at Williamson Park. “It’s for children and youth, just to learn a little about our Nuu-chah-nulth language,” she said. This is the second year for the language hunt.

Something new this year is Lucas has taken some training with the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I-SPARC) in a program called Fit Nation. She will be doing some of the exercises she learned with Tlu-piich Games participants this year.

The idea behind the Tlu-piich Games is to give participants some last memories from their childhood right up to adulthood. Samuel and volunteer coordinator Earl Tatoosh remember participating in the Games when they were children.

“It’s a friendly competitive Games,” Samuel said.

“If you ask any participant our age, before this it was called the Indian Games and they would tell you stories about the Indian Games held back at (the former) Alberni District Secondary School.

“I participated at ADSS. We also participated in junior softball. I remember playing for the Port Alberni Friendship Centre.”

Tatoosh was a track and field competitor and also played baseball when he was younger. “And swimming—they used to have swimming,” he said.

In the past three or four years, the revived games have attracted 1,000 participants and spectators within the five-day period. “We always welcome new participants. It’s an open event but you have to have Indigenous ancestry to participate,” Samuel said.

The Games needs at least 50 volunteers and are still recruiting, volunteer co-ordinator Earl Tatoosh said.

An orientation luncheon for volunteers is planned for Thursday, Aug. 2 at 11 a.m. at the Hupacasath House of Gathering.

Volunteer forms are available at the luncheon as well as the Port Alberni Friendship Centre, Hupacasath House of Gathering, Tseshaht Admin Building, Quu’asa, the Uchucklesaht, Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training (NETP) on Eighth Avenue.

For more information on the Tlu-piich Games, follow them on Facebook and read more of this story at www.albernivalleynews.com.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

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