It doesn’t take much to see that Manitoba has become a welcoming place for people from around the world. This is true in Steinbach and the surrounding area which has, for many years, seen families come from abroad to start a new life in Canada. This has never been more apparent then recently when thousands of people from Ukraine have fled the war in their country and found a welcoming home in Manitoba.
But Manitoba welcomes people with our friendly reputation in other ways as well. Over the past two weeks thousands of police, firefighters and emergency responders came to Winnipeg to participate in the 2023 World Police and Fire Games. With over 8,000 athletes, family members and coaches attending the games, this was one of the largest events that our province has ever hosted.
I had the opportunity to attend several of the events and competitions during games. This included the Opening Ceremonies where athletes marched into the downtown Canada Life Centre under their nations banner. While the loudest cheer was of course for the hometown Canadian delegation, perhaps the most heartfelt welcome, and standing ovation, was reserved for the small delegation from Ukraine.
I was also honoured to visit the athlete’s village which was located at the historic Forks in Winnipeg. There during the games, citizens of countries from around the world met and made friendships. The traditional meeting place that is the Forks added another chapter to that tradition during the games. While the athlete’s village was about friendships, the games were about competition. And the competition was intense across many sports, ranging from Ice Hockey to Judo, where I was honoured to be able to present the athletes with their medals.
Of course, these games were focused on police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel who serve in Canada and around the world. In recognition of that, there was a ceremony held in Memorial Park across from the Manitoba Legislature remembering those who have lost their lives in service. I was honoured to be asked to participate, along with others laying wreaths, in remembrance of those who have served.
Overall, the 2023 World Police and Fire Games were a tremendous success. As with all events of this magnitude, they can only be successful with volunteers and sponsors. And as is always the case, Manitobans stepped up and put their best foot forward in supporting the Games and helping those who came to visit our province make memories.
Whether it is families coming to our province to make a new home in Canada, or visitors who are participating in an event, Manitoba welcomes the world with open arms. Friendly Manitoba may be a slogan, but it is born from a way of life. The Manitoba way.