Cowichan contemplates bid for National Aboriginal Hockey Championships

The NAHC Bid Committee will be making their decision this week.

The Cowichan Valley communities are considering submitting a bid to host the 2017 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC), and Lake Cowichan’s town council is on board.

“There was a huge spinoff effect for all communities after the [North American Indigenous] Games were held in the Cowichan Valley,” councillor Tim McGonigle said at the April 7 town council meeting. “I wholeheartedly support this.”

Held annually since 2001, NAHC hosts bantam and midget aboriginal hockey players from across Canada, showcasing athletic prowess and fostering cultural unity. The event was founded by the Aboriginal Sport Circle and is sanctioned by Hockey Canada.

The Cowichan Valley hosted a similar event, the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in 2008, which saw 4700 athletes compete in 14 sports at venues across the Valley, including kayaking on Cowichan Lake.

The NAHC Bid Committee will be meeting this week to decide whether or not to submit a letter of intent for the games before the April 29 deadline. If the group decides to make a bid on behalf of the Cowichan Valley, the next step will be to submit a “bid package.”

“We have to document how we would stage the games, that we have space available and that we have the ability to host the games, which won’t be a problem for Cowichan,” CVRD director Gerry Giles said.

If the bid is successful, the cost of hosting the games may be partly paid for through the NAIG Legacy Fund, made up of surplus revenue from the games in 2008.

“We’re a community well-versed in bidding for and hosting games,” Giles said, in reference to the 2005 BC Seniors Games and upcoming 2018 BC Summer Games.

Cowichan Lake First Nation operations manager Aaron Hamilton said the nation was not made aware of the bid, though they are in support of it.