At the core of every police chaplain is the desire to be part of what happens behind the scenes. Although it is an honor when we are asked to provide a public prayer or partake in a ceremony, the most precious moments are the ones that happen away from the public eye, when we are in a place of trust amongst only the police officers we serve. Today was a special day for me, both as a police chaplain, and as a police instructor. It marked the end of an eight-month journey with 16 amazing young women and men who will soon be policing in Brandon MB with Brandon PS, MB Indigenous communities with Manitoba First Nations PS, and the Lac Seul ON community with Lac Seul PS. In September, on their second day of classes, I presented Police Chaplaincy to these students. In reading their body language, some appeared open to the value of chaplaincy, while some perhaps, not so much. From January through the end of April, many sessions were spent instructing them on crime scene management and related topics. From traumatic case stories to answered prayers, they heard that faith and policing can exist together, without division or conflict. Based upon my years of policing experience, my goal was to provide the best instruction I could offer, while hopefully demonstrating through my actions that police chaplaincy exists to passionately encourage and support those who choose to dedicate their lives to serving and protecting all persons, without prejudice and with courage. I don't know if I succeeded, but for the first time in over two decades of instructing, following a prayer huddle, each student lined up to give me a hand shake and a big hug. This time spent with the graduates, soon to be police officers, is worth far more to me than numerous public invitations ... this is what fills the heart of a chaplain. I don't think I'm alone in how much I value these encounters.
Gauging from what I've witnessed from CPCA chaplains across Canada, our passionate dedication to building relationships so that we may support and encourage police officers and their families, transcends all faith beliefs and connects us together through respect and admiration. We share common goals while recognizing that it is our individual faith walks that strengthen us to serve those who serve with excellence. As the theme of our 2023 ATS in Winnipeg so aptly indicates, we are "Stronger Together." As chaplains, and as part of the CPCA family of chaplains, we can continually demonstrate to police officers and to all persons, that an individual can have strong faith and be accepting of everyone, while promoting dignity and showing respect to everyone from any background, faith, belief, tradition, culture, including diversity in life choices and opinions. As chaplains, we are ambassadors of goodness and carriers of light to all persons in all places.
Speaking of the blessing of private opportunities, prior to their graduation ceremony, I spent some time sharing some final words of encouragement with these special men and women. Through my connection with the FCPO, I was able to offer "The Peacemakers" book to anyone who wanted a copy. This is a book put together specifically for Law Enforcement Officers to provide help and hope through stories of personal victories of officers, set within the pages of the NIV translation of the New Testament. These books for law enforcement officers are available to any police chaplain free of charge through the FCPO at https://fcpocanada.com/uploads/peacemakers/Psword.pdf
As police chaplains, we cherish opportunities to pray for those we serve. Traditionally, I invite the graduates each year to join my prayer huddle with an option not to participate if they are uncomfortable. I've already shared that what followed the prayer was unexpected and incredibly heart touching. Although I've prayed over graduates since becoming a chaplain in 2015, this was the first time each student lined up and gave me a big hug coupled with words of encouragement. This truly is a very special group whom I believe will accel in policing. Each student exceeded in achieving over 200 hours of volunteer service while in the midst of their studies.
During the graduation ceremony, inspirational words were provided by the Mayor of Brandon, President of ACC College, and the Police Chiefs from BPS, MFNP, and Lac Seul PS. Police Chief Bruno Rossi was a student of mine in 2000, and is now a leader amongst Indigenous peoples and police officers. I've had the pleasure of following his career spanning five police agencies landing him in his second police chief role now serving the Lac Seul community. While there were inspirational words spoken from each dignitary, one word stood out for me. Chief Rossi instructed his new recruits to police with "kindness." Here is a photo of Chief Rossi and his wife Nicki, who was also a student of mine several years ago and now serves alongside her husband.
One final special moment God provided today was being reacquainted with my old troop mate from 1990, Dave Duncan, now a retired Sgt from Winnipeg PS. His daughter Ravyn Duncan graduated today, and I will soon have the honor of policing with her, as I did with her dad over 32 years ago. In addition, I will have the privilege of serving her in a way I didn't serve her father - service as her chaplain.
I believe that all within the CPCA family of chaplains would agree that chaplaincy and policing are two special callings that provide opportunities to come alongside the most amazing men and women in the world. These two callings provide opportunities for "ordinary" men and women to forge extraordinary relationships in which we learn and grow and are enriched in life through our interactions. I hope by sharing a portion of my extraordinary day, you will feel encouraged since we know God is no respecter of persons. I encourage you to share your stories through our website. Send me your story and photos specific to your encounters with police officers, and I will share them with our CPCA family. After all, we are "Stronger Together." Through it all, I give God the glory, while enjoying this journey for as long as it is the will of the Lord for my life. CPCA chaplains - thank you for your passionate and dedicated service to police officers and their families across Canada. Please consider joining us in Winnipeg at our ATS. Registration and information of the event are available at https://www.canadianpolicechaplainassociation.com/annual-training-seminar
Chaplain/Constable Bruce Ewanyshyn
ICPC Director Region 1