The Cowichan Valley will be the host community for the 2017 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in May.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District made the bid for the tournament in 2015, and found out just this week that it had been selected by the Aboriginal Sport Circle and the Aboriginal Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity Partners Council to host. Games will be played at the Island Savings Centre and Cowichan Lake Sports Arena on May 1-6.
“We are very excited to be bringing the 2017 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships to Cowichan,” said Partners Council executive director Rick Brant. “Cowichan has a rich hockey history and with the region’s successes in delivering the 2008 North American Indigenous Games, along with other prestigious provincial, national and international competitions, it was an obvious choice. With the approval of the Aboriginal Sport Circle, we are now in a position to establish a shared partnership with the community and begin preparations for delivering a benchmark event.”
A Valley resident, Brant served as CEO of the Cowichan 2008 North American Indigenous Games and is now the NAIG Council president.
The NAHC is held annually for elite midget-age male and female Aboriginal hockey players from across Canada, providing an opportunity for competition as well as encouraging cultural unity and pride, according to a press release from the Partners Council. Players are selected through a tryout process to represent their provinces. Teams competing at the 2017 NAHC include B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Eastern Door and the North (Quebec), Atlantic, and the North. Approximately 450 players, coaches, and team staff are expected to participate in Cowichan.
“The Partners Council brought together a group of local community leaders that had been involved with the successful delivery of the Cowichan 2008 North American Indigenous Games to explore the possibility of hosting the 2017 NAHC,” the press release stated. “The opportunity was met with considerable enthusiasm. Once the primary venues were confirmed, along with support in principle from community stakeholders, including Cowichan Tribes, Métis Nation BC, and the CVRD, the Partners Council presented a proposal to the Aboriginal Sport Circle, the national body that oversees the event.”
Three local players were on the gold-medal winning B.C. male team at the 2016 NAHC in Mississauga, Ont.: Keenan Eddy, Darian Harris and Ty Brant. Eddy and Harris were in their final year at the midget age level, but Brant is eligible to try out again. Team BC finished fourth in the female tournament in 2016.