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Photos: This Vancouver women's team just won the largest Indigenous basketball tournament in North America

"It's a huge pride."

An elated local Indigenous women's basketball team is celebrating a victory 17 years in the making. 

All My Relations (AMR) is the first Vancouver group to win a championship at the All Native Tournament — the largest Indigenous basketball tournament in North America. 

The victory comes after a couple of difficult years, when the team struggled to stay together amidst COVID-19 regulations that prevented them from gathering to practice. The team also had to raise money to travel to Prince Rupert for the tournament, held from April 3 to 9. 

Team manager Joleen Mitton tells Vancouver Is Awesome that the final game was extremely close, with All My Relations beating the Similkameen Starbirds 57 to 52. And it wasn't a flush of wins to the final match, either. The team lost to the Starbirds in their first meeting 58 to 34.

"We had a rough first game against Masset, which is in Haida Gwaii and then we played Starbirds next and they just crushed us," she explains. "There was a lot of nerves."

A few players had contracted COVID-19 in the weeks leading up to the tournament and the team was anxious. Thankfully, everyone recovered before they had to leave but it was a "stressful" time. 

For women coming off reserves or who live in the DTES, the team offers a safe and healthy outlet in the community. The 30 Indigenous women in the AMR community come from various nations and backgrounds and the team consists of twelve women ranging in age from 17 to 40 years.

"We have a group of young Indigenous people that are from different nations," she notes. "And it just kind of proves that people can work together. 

"I think that's what is really beautiful, being able to come together after such adversity. Not just for your nation, but for all the nations that are across Turtle Island. 

"It's a huge pride."

All My Relations is hosting a basketball tournament at the Britannia Secondary School from May 7 to 9 that will include entertainment and a banner raising to celebrate the All Native Tournament victory.


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