Lax Kw’alaams prepare to lead All Native opening ceremonies

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

(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)

Just Posted

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

Cheslatta inks accord with BC over flooding of lands

The Cheslatta Carrier Nation has signed a settlement agreement and reconciliation agreement… Continue reading

Cyclist braking stigma on addiction from coast to coast

Mathew Fee aims at world record for longest distance on BMX bike while sharing his story of recovery

$14,000 confirmed for Burns Lake dog park

The Burns Lake dog park project is gaining traction and $14,000 in… Continue reading

BLMBA bids to build trail to Boer Mountain

The Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association (BLMBA) is seeking permission to extend… Continue reading

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

Three climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

One of the men is American and the other two are from Europe, according to officials

Two recommendations made in probe of B.C. train derailment that killed three

The CP Rail train went off the tracks near the B.C.-Alberta border in February

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select sailings

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries will be available on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Federal government extends deadline to make Trans Mountain decision to June 18

The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Feb. 22

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Most Read