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New committee takes centre stage at Winnipeg’s upcoming World Police and Fire Games

It’s the first time in the history of the World Police and Fire Games that a committee has been established solely to incorporate Indigenous elements and learning.

Opening ceremonies for the games are slated for July 28 at the Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg. In the lead-up to the year’s event, organizers were enamoured with the idea of being able to include an Indigenous element to it.

As organizing committee chair Chad Swayze put it, the idea is to do every little thing to bridge the gap between Indigenous communities and police organizations.

He added that this way, athletes and visitors from around the world could be educated on Indigenous communities and the importance of reconciliation. Organizers expect athletes from around 70 countries.

“When we started to put the final details together with everything, from the opening ceremonies to what the village looked like and the (overall) look and feel, we felt it important that we included an Indigenous element to it,” said Swayze.

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“There’s aspects of everything. The games are here in Winnipeg and around Winnipeg — we’re being cognizant of the Treaty 1 land that we’re on. To make sure that elders and grand chiefs are there to present medals… we’re (here) to work with everyone.”

According to Swayze, the advisory committee aims to show that while the games are welcoming the world, it is also open to talk about the true history of “our lands.”

Speaking to Global News, he also noted that despite the recent events over the Brady Road Landfill and individual sentiment against the Winnipeg Police Service, the organizers would not provide a formal statement.

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“We are non-political,” said Swayze.

Part of opening up the games to an advisory committee includes incorporating Indigenous art into the event’s branding design, visible on the podium, lanyards, t-shirts and other signages. That work, done by local artist Renata Meconse, is meant to give people across the world a taste of the artwork in Winnipeg.

Adding how proud and honoured she was to be a part of the games and to share her work, Meconse said that, “It’s important to have events like this to bring communities together.”

“Seeing all of my work on different things, such as the podiums and signs, it’s really great for me,” said Meconse. “I look forward to going to the events… I really appreciate being a part of the games and having my work be a part of it.”

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Speaking about the advisory committee, the artist noted that it is a positive step in the right direction. Being able to include First Nations perspectives, she said, is important when it comes to being in a “special place as Manitoba that has a high population of Indigenous communities.”

The games are scheduled to take place on Friday, ending on Aug. 6.

Click to play video: 'World Police and Fire Games kick off this week'

World Police and Fire Games kick off this week

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