Dene Tha’ beat Tlicho in Fort Nelson

Fabian Chonkolay's First Place Team. (Fort Nelson Handgame Society)

27 teams competed in the 75,000 dollar traditional Men’s handgame tournament hosted by the Fort Nelson First Nation over the August long-weekend.

But after all the drumming, calls, chants and guessing… it was a team from Chateh, Alberta who came out on top in first place captained by Fabian Chonkolay.

Here’s a view of the final game between Chonkolay’s team and second place Boris Eyakfwo’s team from Gameti, NWT.

Some team’s like Keith Passion’s picked up players from Sambaa Ke, showing the family connections among Dene across Alberta, BC, and NWT. Isaiah Kotchea was one the younger players competing this year.

“I don’ play for money, I play for fun,” Kotchea told CKLB on Friday heading into the tournament.

Curtis Dickie is one of the coordinators of the tournament. He hopes it continues to be an annual event. He says there’s a revitalization of traditional games happening in Northern BC. They had more teams from around Fort Nelson this year, compared to just one in 2018.

The team that traveled the furthest, was Chief Frank Andrew’s team from Tulita.

Boris Eyakfwo’s 2nd Place Team. (Fort Nelson Handgame Society)

About the Author

Josh Campbell
Start your morning with the Splash on Denendeh Sunrise from 7:30-8:30am. Campbell was trained and mentored by longtime CKLB host and Gwich'in entertainer William Greenland. Prior to hosting the morning show and filling in on the Saturday Request Show, he had stints in the Yukon on CKRW the Rush, CBC North in Yellowknife, and began his broadcasting career at CJCD Mix 100. Before moving North he was born and raised on the banks of the Tobique River, the traditional territory of the Wolastoqiyik, Tobique Maliseet First Nation.