Richard Samuel is heading up the staff and volunteers for fun times in August for the Tlu-piich Games in Port Alberni.
Photo by Debora Steel
It’s that time of year again. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Tlu-piich Games are just around the corner. Games staff are working feverishly to prepare and organize the popular summer events held in the Alberni Valley, this year from Aug. 10 to Aug. 14.
Richard Samuel is back this year as Games Coordinator. He is from Ahousaht First Nations with roots in Kyuquot from his father Wally Sr.’s side, and from Gitanyow of the Gitxsan people on this mother Donna’s side. They are a sports family, and have built a wealth of knowledge and a reputation for volunteer participation in the Alberni Valley over many decades.
Richard was the Games coordinator back in 2009 when the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council revived the Tlu-piich Games after some years without them. He organized the games each year from then until 2012. But his involvement with the games started long before that, volunteering for the Games when his brother Edd was coordinator in the 1990s, and participating as a coach. So Richard is well-versed in the benefits of the Tlu-piich Games to the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples.
“They are important for our young children and families and people to get out and be active. That’s the purpose of the Games is for all Nuu-chah-nulth people and aboriginal people to participate and learn these events,” he said. Some of the events lined up for this year may be new for participants, and this is the chance to try something out.
The Games are for Nuu-chah-nulth, but also for any aboriginal person who would like to participate, and all other people are welcome to watch the activities and cheer on participants. It’s a free event for all. And many Alberni residents spend a couple, or a few hours, volunteering to help the Games run smoothly.
Day 1 begins at 3 p.m. at Bob Dailey Stadium for the Track and Field events. Opening ceremonies will begin at 5 p.m. and the announcement of the Sports Hall of Fame inductees. Nominations are open, so check the Tlu-piich Games Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/NuuchahnulthTlupiichGames/?fref=ts for information on how to nominate a former top Nuu-chah-nulth athlete or team builder.
Later in the evening there is a culture night at the House of Gathering starting at 8 p.m. The floor will be open for singers or dancers who want to perform a couple of songs.
Day 2 starts at 9 a.m. for the remainder of the Track and Field races. The relay races, the last races at the track, are expected to be held starting at 12:30 p.m.
Richard Samuel is encouraging all athletes and spectators to show up 30 minutes prior to an event to keep the games on schedule. These relay events in the past had to stopped do to soaring temperatures, making it dangerous for participants, volunteers and spectators alike.
Because of extreme heat, which is very typical weathr for the Tlu-piich Games, everyone is advised to prepare by ensuring they have plenty of water and keep hydrated. Wear sunblock; be in the shade as much as possible.
“We are going to have First Aid on site, as well as water coolers in the stands for people who need that water,” said Samuel.
After track and field, there will be a lacrosse clinic at the lacrosse box next to Rec Park, near Gyro Centre. That event starts at 3:30 p.m. The lacrosse clinic has been held at previous Tlu-piich Games and it was a successful event, so organizers are bringing it back.
The other big event is 3 on 3 basketball, which will be held at Alberni Athletic Hall starting at 4 p.m Aug. 11. The divisions are 13 and under, 17 and under and seniors at 18 and up. Operations coordinator Mercedes Brown said they will even try to organize a masters division for 35 years and up.
Lahal will be held at 8 p.m. at House of Gathering.
The canoe races will be held this year at Canal Beach on Day 3, Aug. 12. Registration is at 8 a.m. and the races start at 9 a.m.
After the canoe races, the games move to Williamson Park (across from the GM dealership on Johnson Rd.) for a barbecue of hot dogs and hamburgers starting at 1 p.m.
There will be multiple activities there, including the Language Treasure Hunt at 2:30 p.m. and then the six and under field events will be held. That’s the three-legged race, the potato sack races and the two and under crawl.
The final night of lahal will start at 8 p.m. at House of Gathering.
The last two days, Aug. 13 and 14, will be devoted to slo-pitch and fastball, held at Echo fields and Rec Park.
There will also be a soft-ball clinic, so make sure you check out the Tlu-piich Facebook Page for the day and time for that event.
Closing ceremonies will be held after the slo-pitch and fastball tournaments, in early evening, depending on the number of teams.
The Tlu-piich Games are an opportunity for participation and pride of achievement.
“It’s amazing how many children and young adults are very proud of themselves when they are finished events, wanting to have their ribbons right away,” said Samuel. “Everyone’s very proud of what they do.”
Last year’s numbers topped 2,000 participants, athletes, spectators and volunteers combined, and a similar turnout is expected this year.
“The events are very volunteer-driven. We rely heavily on volunteers.” Incentives include daily prizes and then a grand prize at the end of the games.
The Games staff are really appreciative of the sponsors who have again stepped up to help fund the games.
This year at the Platinum level are Cermaq Canada, Ratcliff & Company and Chatwin Engineering. Gold sponsors are Probyn Group, New Relationship Trust and Scotia Bank. Silver sponsors are Tseshaht Market and Herold Engineering.
“Without these sponsors, a lot of the events could not happen,” said Samuel. The majority of these sponsors come back each year, and provide support. Why? Because it’s a family friendly event, Samuel said. That’s key. They know we do a great event, providing the opportunity for families to participate in a healthy way.