Lax Kw’alaams prepare to lead All Native opening ceremonies

(Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
(Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
Amago’ot Gyetm Maaxii dancers in Prince Rupert have been preparing for the 60th All Native Basketball opening ceremonies since last year’s tournament when it was announced Lax Kw’alaams would lead the show. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
(Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
Amago’ot Gyetm Maaxii dancers in Prince Rupert have been preparing for the 60th All Native Basketball opening ceremonies since last year’s tournament when it was announced Lax Kw’alaams would lead the show. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
(Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
Garry Wells, leads the Amago’ot Gyetm Maaxii dancers in Prince Rupert, along with Dana Bolton. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Opening the All Native tournament for the diamond anniversary is an honour saved for the Ts’msyen, and Lax Kw’alaams has multiple dance troupes preparing for the big event.

Garry Wells was the leader of the dance group on Lax Kw’alaams for approximately 15 years, but when he moved to Prince Rupert, Wells’ cousin, and band councillor, Braden Dudoward took over.

“He’s doing an excellent job,” he said.

Wells couldn’t remain idle for long. He saw an interest to start a dance group on Kaien Island, so he formed Amago’ot Gyetm Maaxii, meaning One Heart, People of the Rainbow.

Dudoward continued the dance group on Lax Kw’alaams, and noticed a recent shift.

“It’s brought a lot of people out that haven’t sang or danced with us in a while and bringing a lot of interest back in our dance group,” he said.

At last year’s opening ceremony, the tournament committee announced that the 60th All Native Basketball opening ceremonies would belong to Lax Kw’alaams.

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

“We’ve been practicing basically since after we heard back that we are going to be doing this year’s grand opening,” Wells said after a Sunday practice.

Dance practices are happening across northwest B.C., wherever there are enough members to put together a troupe. There are even members in Vancouver preparing for the ceremonies on Feb. 10.

Every Sunday, members get together in Prince Rupert or Lax Kw’alaams for a couple hours of drumming, singing and dancing. The experience is soul shaking, even with just 60 members in one room — Wells said he’s expecting more than 100 people, with 50 drums, to take the court for the opening ceremonies.

“We’ve agreed to a final song list that we wanted to do because we didn’t want to have it too lengthy,” Dudoward said.

In two weeks, as the teams walk onto the court at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, Lax Kw’alaams will drum and sing with an opening song.

“We have a new entrance song composed by my auntie, Cheryl Sampson with the help of our elders, Rita Hayward, and Don McKay helped,” he said.

There will also be a song dedicated to dance the elders in, written by Christine Martin. Another special song titled “Our children’s, children’s song” will be to showcase the youths.

“They’ll be going out to dance in the gym, just to get them going out to dance on their own when it comes to performing,” Dudoward said.

“I just love it when kids come, I know they want to learn, they want to participate,” Wells said.

On Sunday, Jan. 20, Prince Rupert dancers took the ferry over to Lax Kw’alaams to have a practice as a whole. “Just so we’re all on the same page,” Dudoward said. They will also give members who can’t make it over to the tournament a sneak peak at the opening ceremony performance.

Lax Kw’alaams dancers have applied for grant money to assist with the travel, as well as material to make regalia for those who don’t have traditional clothing to wear on the big day.

Another special moment this year will be having the dancers witness the inductees into the Hall of Fame — Russel Mather and Wild William Wesley — both Lax Kw’alaams members.

The dancing won’t stop with the opening ceremonies.

“We’re using this to open up our groups to continue on after this because there are more events to do,” Wells said.

WATCH MORE: A soul shaking All Native Basketball Tournament opening ceremony

To report a typo, email: editor@thenorthernview.com.


Shannon Lough | Editor
Shannon Lough 
Send Shannon email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

All Native Basketball Tournament

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Quesnel Technics Gymnastics look to stick COVID-19 landing

The club is back, with new procedures and funding to help fight the spread of COVID-19

Wells mining company working to return after COVID-19 postive test

Bakerville Gold Mines general manager said the diamond drilling program will return later this week

New building nearly ready for opening at Quesnel’s Alex Fraser Park

The multi-purpose building features an upstairs lounge and ability to host community events

Flights from Quesnel not cleared for takeoff

Central Mountain Air’s schedule until at least Oct. 31 does not include any Cariboo stops

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Teen killer Kelly Ellard gets day parole extension, allowing up to 5 days at home

Ellard is serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Most Read