For the first time in the history of the CPCA, Winnipeg, Manitoba was the host city for our CPCA Annual Training Seminar from October 16 - 20, 2023. Police chaplains from across Canada gathered in numbers that surpassed the past two decades. Planning for this ATS began with a conversation in 2018 between current CPCA ATS Liaison WPS Sgt John Siderius and current CPCA President Bruce Ewanyshyn. Fast forward to the conclusion of the 2022 ATS in Niagara Falls, a Planning Committee was formed by WPS Chaplain/Sargeant John Siderius and WPS Chaplain/Inspector George Labossiere. The prestigious Fort Garry Hotel was secured as a host location and presentation topics were selected based upon critiques submitted to the CPCA post 2022 ATS in Niagara Falls.
A selection of qualified presenters were approached and secured for multiple training sessions covering Intermediate topics in Crisis and Police Community/Family. Meanwhile, the Planning Committee acquired some funds to offset ATS costs through Criminal Forfeiture thanks to the cooperation of the Hon. Kelvin Goertzen, who until recently served as the Manitoba Minister of Justice (pictured here with his wife). His Hon. Kelvin Goertzen took time from his busy schedule as current MLA for Steinbach to share words of encouragement with our chaplains and share about his faith at a dinner event which took place at The Leaf on Wednesday evening. He was one of several special speakers during the ATS.
The ATS Planning Committee consisting of WPS Chaplains Inspector George Labossiere, Inspector Helen Peters, Sgt John Siderius, Sgt Greg Wiebe, Sgt Saif Khan, Cst Paul Weekes, and Cst Chika Modozie greeted chaplains throughout the week and provided escorts from and to the Wpg International Airport. These WPS police chaplains succeeded in making every chaplain feel special through various acts of service and were by far the busiest chaplains throughout the ATS. In my eyes, their actions were representative of Jesus' words in Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve ..." They worked as a fluid team while serving all attendees with excellence and joy. Spending time with each one was truly a highlight of my week. The CPCA Leadership Team cannot thank you enough for all the ways you seven served with excellence through the long days from 0700 to 2100 hours or later, every day. Below is a photo of four of the seven serving at the Registration table (clockwise): Helen, John, Paul, and Greg.
Monday evening at the "Meet & Greet" we were treated to a MB traditional supper of perogies and sausage representative of the large Ukrainian community that reside in Winnipeg. Each morning a sit-down breakfast was served to prepare our body's reserve with fuel for the day. Afterwards our classes commenced with an inspirational message from one of the Planning Committee chaplains.
Favorable media coverage began Tuesday morning with CHVN local radio station reporter Mike Thom interviewing WPS Chaplain/Inspector George Labossiere and BPS Chaplain/Constable Bruce Ewanyshyn. Audio clips from those interviews aired throughout the week on CHVN, and a media release was shared on the CHVN website. Here is a link to the news article.
Commencing with our first presenter, Ret. WPS Chief of Police Devon Clunis, chaplains were challenged throughout the majority of courses to think outside of what was common to us in the past and aim for greater levels of service to police officers and their families. Devon presented a slide that resonated with me and many others. It showed a heart with headphones and the caption "This Will Help - listen with your heart." Devon's presentation was followed by a WPS Sergeant's account of a justified police shooting and how the event has affected his life and that of his spouse. Through his presentation, chaplains gleaned ways to more effectively serve police and their families in navigating an extreme trauma event. We listened with our hearts and there was not a dry eye in the room. Below is a photo of Ret. WPS Police Chief Devon Clunis.
ICPC President Elect Dr. Paul Ellis presented in the afternoon providing an overview of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), and how it is the toolbox that unpacks Diffusing and Debriefing techniques amongst other useful tools to assist police to work through trauma incidents. Paul has been serving American police officers in chaplaincy for many years and his personal examples brought light, understanding and clarification to the concepts of CISM. Dr. Paul Ellis is pictured below.
After a very "heavy" day which focused on chaplains serving police and their families during traumatic situations, it was refreshing to gather at Yuk Yuks comedy club for a special show performed by Illusionist/Comedian Greg Wood. Just as entertainnig was the opening act - one of our very own CPCA Members - WPS Inspector George Labossiere who had us laughing at his one liners through our groans. George is one smooth operator!
CPCA - ON Region Regional Director Charlie Swartwood kicked off our next morning with energy and zeal as he spoke on "Unlocking Spirituality in a Practical Way." Charlie invited my favorite Imam Abd Alfatah Twakkal to share on the topic of Emotional Intelligence. Afterwards, I approached Imam Twakkal to consider being one of our presenters in BC for the 2025 ATS. The photos below are of Charlie and Imam Twakkal.
Calgary PS Head Chaplain Miriam Mollering flew in on Wednesday morning to present on "Indigenous Education." Miriam is a scholar and is the presenter of two of our online CPCA Core courses: "Diversity & Sensitivity in Police Chaplaincy" and "Ceremonies, Events, & Line of Duty Death Funerals." She has also developed presentations for CPS including one on Indigenous Education. Miriam's presentation was followed by Christine Vanagas who is the Director of Indigenous Relations at Siloam Mission in Wpg, and an advocate for equality for Indigenous people through "Truth & Reconciliation." She is a woman of faith who is proud to celebrate her Indigenous roots and culture in an active and meaningful way. Below is a photo of Miriam and a photo of Christine.
Our CPCA Executive Officer Secretary/Treasurer Phil Sovdi presented on "Resiliency & Recovery" and effectively used a "dodge ball" prop to reinforce what happens when you lack resiliency in your life. Phil and his wife Linda are pictured below. Several chaplains brought their spouses to the ATS which made the evening activities even more enjoyable. Police chaplains are encouraged to always keep the officer's families at the forefront of their thoughts and actions of service. The most important person in the life of many police officers is their partner; thus, it is vital to extend chaplaincy services to the families of police officers. For chaplains, preparation to serve police begins at home cultivating healthy family relationships because you cannot give away what you do not have.
Chaplain Curtis Hinds is the Coordinator of Chaplaincy & Spiritual Supports for Peel Regional Police and challenged Canadian chaplains on "Keys to Getting Buy In from your Police Service." At the Annual General Meeting in the afternoon, Curtis was elected as our CPCA 2nd Vice President. Welcome to our CPCA Leadership Team, Curtis. Your contributions will be pivotol in moving the CPCA forward in the coming years. Robert Parmenter who has been serving as our CPCA 1st Vice President was re-elected for another two year term. Re-elected for a final two year term as CPCA President is yours truly, Bruce Ewanyshyn. The AGM brought to election numerous proposals in our CPCA Constitution that had been recommended by a committee consisting of Past President Michael Rolph as Chair, Robert Parmenter, and Charlie Swartwood. The most significant proposals were for the implementation of Regions and Regional Directors following the success of a four-year pilot project led by Charlie Swartwood in Ontario. Once the Constitution changes were agreed to unanimously by our members in attendance, I had the pleasure of introducing CPCA - ON Region Regional Director Charlie Swartwood, CPCA - MB Region Regional Director John Siderius, CPCA - SK Region Regional Director Tom McCullagh, and CPCA - BC Region Regional Director Bill Ashbee. Regions and Directors will continue to be developed in the future. They will be the connecting point for chaplains within the regions and bring forth training opportunities for education and connection. Pictured below is Curtis Hinds and the newly elected CPCA 1st VP, President, and 2nd VP (in that order).
A couple of highlights outside of the classroom setting on Thursday was a dining experience at the Clay Oven where WPS Inspector George Labossiere introduced us to a special guest: Mark Chipman - owner of the Winnipeg Jets. We were delighted to hear Mr. Chipman share about his strong Christian faith and how that impacts all aspects of his life.
The second highlight on Thursday was a guided tour through the Human Rights Museum. Some of the displays were heart wrenching while others brought encouragement and promise.
Thursday evening concluded with our traditional CPCA formal banquet. Our Master of Ceremonies was WPS Inspector George Labossiere and opening prayer was given by WPS Sgt John Siderius.
I had the privilege of opening with a Fallen Officers' Memorial including reading the Honour Role, followed by some words of encouragement to our chaplains.
Three CPCA Members achieved Basic Credentials in 2023 and I had the honor of presenting certificates to RCMP "K" Division Chaplain Robert Parmenter (CPCA 1st VP), RCMP "K" Division Chaplain Phil Sovdi (CPCA Secretary/Treasurer), and RCMP "H" Division Chaplain Dave Sutherland. Congratulations to our three chaplains for a job well done.
Our banquet keynote speaker was Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham who shared an inspirational message about his background as a pastor for over 20 years and how his faith has carried him throughout his life and now in service to the residents of Winnipeg as Mayor. In conversation at our table, I learned that Scott is a nephew of Barry Gillingham whom I served alongside in the early 1990's when Barry was a Constable with the Brandon Police Service.
Friday morning began with an inspirational message from WPS Chaplain/Sgt Greg Wiebe which was followed by a worship song delivered by Toronto PS Chaplain Wendell Gibbs and WPS Chaplain/Inspector Helen Peters.
Friday morning concluded with presentations from RCMP "K" Division Chaplain Hillar Alkok (our faithful CPCA Registrar) sharing on "Chaplain Experiences", and RCMP "K" Division Chaplain Coordinator George Madden sharing on "Keys to Building a Chaplaincy Program.".
Throughout the week, each morning began with an inspirational message delivered by a WPS Chaplain. In addition to Greg (previously shown), here are photos of Chaplains George Labossiere, John Siderius, and Helen Peters delivering inspirational messages to begin our daily classes.
My duties as CPCA President throughout the week were very pleasurable. I had the privilege of introducing speakers or presenting gifts, chairing our AGM, and just spending time connecting with individual chaplains which is my favorite thing to do. All the major details and itinerary was covered by the amazing team of WPS Chaplains. The CPCA Leadership Team is very grateful for the excellence that was demonstrated throughout the week by the WPS Chaplains.
Below is a classroom photo of the AB RCMP chaplains in attendance.
Below is a photo from the formal banquet highlighting Manitoba police chaplains in attendance and includes WPS, BPS, RCMP, and Winkler chaplains along with WPS Police Chief Danny Smyth and Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham.
Below are some additional photos from our formal banquet and week-long ATS. If you are interested in viewing many more photos which I have chronologically arranged to tell the story of our ATS through photos, please click on this link to our Gallery page of our website and scroll to the bottom. A sincere thank you to all CPCA Members and non CPCA Members and our Affiliate Member for investing in a week full of training and times of connection. The CPCA exists to serve you and encourage you as you serve law enforcement officers and their families across Canada.
Warmest regards and blessings,
BPS Chaplain/Constable Bruce Ewanyshyn
ICPC Director of Region 1