Cowichan Valley bids on National Aboriginal Hockey tournament

The Cowichan Valley is taking another shot at landing a major national sporting event.

It was announced earlier this month that local governments and First Nations are working together to bid for the 2017 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. The bid package, which was submitted on May 27, puts an emphasis on "strong cultural community building, economic sports development, a lasting community sports legacy fund, participant quality experience, community leadership and capacity." Hosting the tournament, bid committee members say, would enhance the community building sparked in 2008 when the region hosted the North American Indigenous Games.

"This tournament will again have our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities come together to provide a memorable experience for not only the athletes and the hockey community, but for all who participate and observe," 2008 NAIG committee president Calvin Swustus said.

Cowichan Valley Regional District Chair Jon Lefebure agreed. "We have seen firsthand the powerful impact events like Cowichan 2008 NAIG can have on our region," he said. "Hosting this national hockey championship will again bring direct and significant sport, economic, cultural, and social benefits to the Cowichan Valley."

The week-long tournament is held every spring, showcasing bantam and midget age players from across Canada. A total of 16 teams compete in male and female divisions, with more than 400 players, coaches, managers and trainers expected to attend.

The Cowichan Valley hosted the BC Seniors Games in 2005, and will host the BC Summer Games in 2018. Former multi-sport star athlete and NHL scout Herb Strongeagle and retired NHL defenceman Doug Bodger will serve as honorary chairs for the championships.

"I am honoured to support Cowichan’s bid for the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships," Strongeagle said. "These championships will again bring our communities together and we will be proud hosts."

"The strength of the Cowichan Valley is more than its exceptional recreation facilities, unique geographical backdrop and history of delivering successful events," Bodger added. "Cowichan has proven that our unified area of community partnerships has set a new benchmark in the delivery of these types of events."