The North Battleford Civic Centre was the site of the BIMFC All-Native Hockey Tournament every spring. Photo by Braden Malsbury.
According to organizers, a once popular Aboriginal hockey tournament in Saskatchewan will likely never hit the ice again.
The annual Battlefords Indian and Metis Friendship Centre All-Native Hockey Tournament, which ran every April for 50 years, is not taking place for the second straight year.
“We just couldn’t secure the teams for contact, we just can’t compete with all of the other tournaments,” said Jackie Kennedy, the Executive Director of the Battlefords Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. “We’re just not financially set to compete with other tournaments.”
Hearing that the so-called “Native Stanley Cup” has run its course is a tough thing for some to hear, including Clarence (Tsi-boy) Iron, a Cree language play-by-play announcer who used to attend the tournament frequently.
“This was a well-organized hockey tournament, but things have changed a bit because there seems to be more of the junior hockey now,” said Iron. “Prince Albert is holding some pretty good tournaments. I think everybody seems to be heading there, and to the FSIN (tournament) that usually takes place in Saskatoon.”
In the final years of the tournament, players had to play for their own community and teams were only allowed to carry three imports.