02/14/2015 01:09 EST | Updated 04/15/2015 05:59 EDT

B.C. LNG sponsorship inappropriate at All Native Basketball Tournament, team says

The captain of a team playing at the All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert says he's disappointed event organizers accepted sponsorship money from oil and gas industries.

This year's tournament is sponsored by a dozen companies and organizations, half of them related to the energy sector.

Jason Alsop, the captain of the Skidegate Saints, says last month he sent a letter to the tournament committee to voice his team's opposition.

"I'm opposed to frac gas. I don't think there's anything natural about it," said Alsop. "I'm all in favour of sustainable economies, but I think we have to look at alternative energy sources and grow in a way that's First Nations led."

"We want to give ourselves a chance to grow and heal in our communities before these projects are rammed down our throats."

Alsop says he hasn't received a formal response, but he has spoken with committee members and asked to have sponsorship banners taken down.

"Basically we were told if we didn't like it, it's an invitation tournament and we don't have to come," said Alsop.

After some discussion, Alsop and his team decided to participate in this year's tournament despite the sponsors because everyone agreed it's such an important event for the First Nations community.

"The genocide we've been a part of, the loss of culture — we're rebuilding, and this is a large part of it," said Alsop.

But he hopes that next year there could be more dialogue about how to keep the event going without the money from energy sponsors.

"There's got to be a way we can work it out between nations, with the city, the businesses, and find a way that we can maintain a tournament we can all be happy with," said Alsop.

To listen to the full interview with Jason Alsop, click on the audio labelled: Team opposes energy sponsors at All Native Basketball Tournament.