A total of 258 teams from 45 communities and regions will converge on the Alberta Native Hockey Provincial Championships (ANHC) in April.
The 25th anniversary of the championships will run April 5 to 8 in Edmonton bringing thousands of hockey folks into the city. According to a press release from ANHC organizers on Friday, it’s expected there will be more than 3,160 players, 319 juniors, 466 coaches plus the trainers in Edmonton for the big tournament.
Teams are coming from all over Alberta as well as the Northwest Territories. The event is so large that in 2017 it’s estimated there were approximately 14,000 fans who took in the hockey action.
Organizers held a launch onWednesday with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Priscilla Swampy-Dion, Treaty 6 representative and registrar, who spoke about the tournament and its long-standing tradition.
“We are many nations but hockey brings us together,” said Swampy-Dion.
“Every year for the last 24 years Edmonton has held a secret,” she added, referring to the tournament.
She says it’s a celebration of the many athletes who share a love of hockey.
Swampy-Dion estimates that the economic impact to Edmonton is in the range of $23 million. Fans use the city’s hotels and take advantage of the many amenities in Edmonton, she added.
“We want to invite everyone in the celebration of hockey and our First Nations people,” said Swampy-Dion.
She pointed out that this tournament helps create lifetime friendships.
“First Nations children face unique challenges. Hockey is a healthy and fun way for kids and families to experience success and grow,” said Swampy-Dion.
Iveson is proud that Edmonton has been the home of this tournament but felt it’s taken a little long for the city to recognize it. “That tells you that there’s more work to do,” said Iveson, adding that city council is excited to see the tournament in the city.
“We wish the players all the best,” said Iveson.