UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Before a ball is kicked : how organizing Coast Salish soccer tournaments resist assimilation Joe-Mayes, Tyrone


This thesis focusses on a group of shíshálh Nation members who volunteered to organize a weekend soccer tournament in the town of Sechelt, British Columbia, and argues their work sustains significant aspects of ancient Coast Salish culture, thereby resisting assimilation. Colonial authorities administering the Indian Act in Canada made multiple and increasingly aggressive attempts to achieve the complete and total assimilation of Coast Salish people. Two attempts are notable: (1) outlawing the Northwest Coast potlatch, a pillar of Coast Salish governance and culture; and (2) forcing Indigenous children into residential schools to separate them from the cultural teachings held by their village Elders. Government officials supported religious missionaries who envisioned Western sport as a practical means to facilitate the process of “civilizing” and assimilating Indigenous peoples underway in the 19th century. Despite these attempts to impose Euro-centric views, I ask in what ways do soccer tournaments preserve shíshálh culture? And was the adoption of soccer by the Coast Salish a response to Canada’s 19th century policies of forced cultural assimilation? Five semi-structured interviews were conducted with shíshálh members, and one non-shíshálh, to ask about their experiences volunteering to organize soccer tournaments, what they do, and why. Fieldwork took place during the weekend tournament organized by the shíshálh volunteers, hosted at Ted Dixon Memorial Park on Sechelt Band Lands 2. It included an evening of preparation, the two-day competition, and the events immediately following the tournament. I contend Coast Salish soccer tournaments are unique occasions keeping intact ancestral connections, kinship relations, intervillage networks, and identity for the shíshálh Nation.

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