Vince Edenshaw played against Skidegate in the 59th All Native Basketball Tournament before being detained by Canada Border Services Agency. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

The All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert is an annual event that many look forward to all year, but for Vince Edenshaw and Greg Frisby, the two Hydaburg players didn’t get to see it through — they were detained by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

“They crossed our territorial waters, which happen of course to have a border between it, the Dixon Entrance, a narrow body of water separating Haida Gwaii from southeast Alaska,” said their lawyer, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson.

After travelling from Hydaburg, Alaska, to Haida Gwaii and then taking the ferry to Prince Rupert for the competition, the two Haida men were detained on Friday, Feb. 16, for failing to check in with a border agent before entering Canada.

Instead of playing in the All Native finals, Edenshaw and Frisby were in jail in Terrace, waiting for their hearing and facing a different type of court.

Williams-Davidson said her clients had taken the route to Haida Gwaii for several reasons.

“One of them being the ferry system is not working right now between Alaska and Prince Rupert. It was shut down on short notice and it’s out for months. So the other alternative is a plane, and it’s an expensive flight to come down, so they chose to go this way. It’s the way that our people have gone before in the past,” Williams-Davidson said, adding that Edenshaw’s and Frisby’s ancestors would have often travelled freely over those waters, which are still a part of Haida territory.

After a weekend in custody in Terrace, Edenshaw and Frisby were released on Monday, Feb. 19.

READ MORE: Kitkatla end 54 year drought with title win

Although Williams-Davidson doesn’t normally practice immigration law, the general counsel for the Haida Nation took on Edenshaw and Frisby’s case.

“Because these men were on their own in jail, I volunteered to help get them out,” she said. “We didn’t turn it into this big Aboriginal rights hearing, instead we agreed to the exclusion order because the primary objective was to get them out of jail and get them back home.”

In accordance with the exclusion order, the two men will not be allowed to enter Canada again for a year. When they cross the border again, Williams-Davidson will continue to represent them.

“I’m looking forward to next year and the tournament again,” she said. “You know, basketball is an important thing for small northern communities… It’s the same in Hydaburg, Alaska. It’s a very small community, like the communities in Haida Gwaii.

“Basketball is a great opportunity for teaching younger people some of the teachings that we would have gotten a long time ago in ceremonies. It’s an opportunity for kids to advance themselves. One of them, Vinny, volunteers to teach the high school basketball team. He’s a coach for them. Basketball is important, so they’ll continue to play basketball and continue to provide a role model to children who want to advance in basketball. I want to make sure they can continue to do that.”

As for the Haida Warriors seniors, the Hydaburg team, they lost in the All Native finals and without their key players, were unable to defeat Kitkatla in the close match.

“Every time I called in to them, they wanted to know what was up with their team,” Williams-Davidson said, adding that it was hard on Edenshaw and Frisby to miss the game.

Being able to travel freely in Haida territory — national border or not — continues to be an issue for the Haida Nation, but it was not a battle fought over the basketball court.

“We did have it noted on the record that these two men are Haida citizens and according to our laws, they should be free to pass in our territory. We wanted it noted on the record, but it wasn’t the issue in the hearing,” Williams-Davidson said.

“That is still an issue that is important to the citizens of the Haida Nation. It may be a subject of broader litigation, perhaps the Aboriginal title litigation we’re currently engaged in… It’s still an issue that will need to be addressed.”

Read more about the 59th All Native Basketball Tournament here.



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Have you seen Peter Webb?

Fifty-two-year-old man reported missing by family who last saw him July 9

UPDATE: 14-year-old pilot sets Guinness World Record at Langley airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab believes he is now the youngest pilot with the fewest hours logged to fly solo

Plenty of heroes in Thai cave rescue, says Langley diver

Erik Brown reflects on team effort that brought 12 boys and their coach to safety

Elvis sighted in Aldergrove

Live concerts set for Langley Cruise-In on Sept. 8

Township announces new Korean War memorial

A memorial stone from South Korea’s Gapyeong region will be installed at Derek Doubleday Arboretum

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Abbotsford’s Besse sisters: Vaulting to greatness at Summer Games

Local siblings heading to Cowichan to compete in equestrian

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Most Read