North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice during her speech at the All Native Basketball Tournament opening ceremonies, Sunday, Feb. 11. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice during her speech at the All Native Basketball Tournament opening ceremonies, Sunday, Feb. 11. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

MLA apologizes for joke at B.C. Indigenous basketball tournament

North Coast representative Jennifer Rice’s attempt at humour fell flat

MLA Jennifer Rice has apologized on social media after a joke she made at the All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert last weekend was answered with a chorus off boos.

The North Coast representative took a turn at the microphone after the opening ceremonies, featuring a performance by the Gingolx Cultural Dancers, who led matriarchs, chiefs and players onto the court in front of a packed audience.

Rice’s apparent attempt at sarcasm, in which she called the performance “not bad,” fell flat.

WATCH: Gingolx bring a full house to All Native opening ceremonies

More than 85 dancers were dressed in traditional regalia and had been practising since September. Fundraising efforts raised $26,000 for the group to attend.

The next on her Facebook page, Rice apologized: “Some people took my comment literally and I offended them. That was not my intention at all. I meant the complete opposite as I thought they were phenomenal.

“To those I offended, I sincerely apologize. I have nothing but the utmost respect for all the Nations who make the ANBT the incredible cultural and sporting event that it is.”

Her post, which has more than 70 comments and has been shared more than 100 times, received a mixed response.

One person called for a feast and apology with gifts to the matriarchs and elders of the Gingolx. Others said her joke was taken too seriously, while others said they felt disrespected. Many thanked the MLA for her apology.

One commenter wrote that Rice shouldn’t made a joke at all.

The “sombreness of the moment,” the person said, was changed by her making light of an emotional event, when given the opportunity to honour the performers.

READ MORE: Gingolx dancers lead All Native opening ceremonies

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