Tom Curley readies his clubs for the Tlu-piich Games annual fundraising golf tournament in Port Alberni on July 19. The tournament and its silent auction serve asTlu-piich's largest fundraiser, generating over $10,000 to finace the games this year. (Eric Plummer photo)
The region’s support for the Tlu-piich Games was evident at its annual golf tournament on Wednesday, as the fundraiser garnered more than $10,000.
Held at the Port Alberni Golf Club, the tournament drew more than 50 golfers in 11 teams. Funds raised include more than $8,000 worth of prizes to be auctioned off that were donated from Vancouver Island businesses and artists.
Most of these prizes came from Port Alberni, where Tlu-piich staff found a valuable network of local connections as they reached out for support to make the games happen this summer. Scheduled Aug. 8-13 in Port Alberni, the Tlu-piich Games are expected to attract hundreds of Nuu-chah-nulth-aht from communities across the West Coast to partake in athletic and cultural activities.
Betty Knighton has seen the games importance grow as she grew up in the Ditidaht reserve on Nitinaht Lake. Eighteen years ago she participated in the pageant that was formerly part of the games, now Knighton works as the Tlu-piich assistant before heading into her fourth year in the child and youth care program at Vancouver Island University.
“It’s grown tremendously from what I can remember,” she said. “This year I notice that Ditidaht First Nation is really pulling together tremendously with their canoe club.”
Since it began 35 years ago as the Indian Games, the event has involved multiple generations of participants. Kathleen Lundy-Sam grew up taking part in Tlu-piich as her mother Ruby Ambrose helped coordinate the games. Now the volunteer coordinator, Lundy-Sam is tasked with gathering people to run the events, a contribution she expects will entail approximately 50 volunteers a day. Although the games are intended to be events for Nuu-chah-nulth, anyone with enthusiasm is eligible to help.
“It’s really open to anybody who just wants to be involved with the sports,” said Lundy-Sam, noting the importance of encouraging young people to participate. “There’s so much influence out there that could lead kids on the wrong path, but these games keep them busy. It’s something all the kids look forward to, just competing.”
“I think that there’s lifelong human connections established. They’re very meaningful and healthy,” added Tlu-piich’s operations coordinator Judie Thomas. “We’re missing that human connection. Social media seems to be taking over.”
The Tlu-piich Games are held to bring Nuu-chah-nulth families and communities together, but a secondary benefit is the event’s boost to Port Alberni’s economy. This increase in visitors has helped to garner more support from the business community, said Thomas.
“A lot of companies are very, very supportive and see the big picture, in that it is for the Nuu-chah-nulth people, especially the children,” said Thomas. “A healthy people is a healthy community is a healthy economy.”
The Tlu-piich Games begin Aug. 8 with canoe races at Canal Beach (registration starts at 8 p.m.), followed by a family day in Williamson Park at 1 p.m., with lunch and a treasure hunt involving words from the Nuu-chah-nulth language. Opening ceremonies are at 4 p.m. in the park, then a cultural night begins at 8 p.m. in the House of Gathering. Other events include a three-on-three basketball tournament, lahal, track and field, orthodox (sidearm) fastball, slo-pitch and fastball before the closing ceremonies on Aug. 13 in Port Alberni’s Recreation Park.
Golf tournament results:
1st place – Tigh-Na-Mara
2nd place (tie) – Harris Drive and Bank of Montreal
Most Honest Team – Scotiabank Team 1
Men’s Longest Drive – Ryan Ricard
Ladies’ Longest Drive – Leah Wheeldon
Men’s Closest to pin – Morgan Steed
Ladies’ Closest to pin – Cherie Williams