Youth who’ve recently moved to Portage la Prairie as newcomers from nations where the police just aren’t quite the same as they are here. They enjoyed a time of playing sports with the RCMP on Sunday.
Miriam Ghitale is Settlement Coordinator at the Portage Learning and Literacy Center (PLLC) and helps organize an effort to see newcomer youth and local RCMP officers come together and just have some plain fun.
“We were contacted through e-mail by the RCMP in Winnipeg, and they wanted to do something with youth,” said Ghitale. “However, when we talked to our youth in town about it, they didn’t want to do it at all. We said we wanted to do something with them because they, especially newcomers, have very different experiences with Policemen and often it’s scary in other parts of the world — the relationship between policemen and the rest of the people.”
She explains they then asked the youth what they wanted to do instead. They replied they wanted to play sports.
“We talked to Larry Neufeld from the RCMP and he said, ‘Absolutely. This is something we should be doing.’ He just put the call out to everybody at the RCMP to see if they wanted to join and play, having a sports day. And lots of people showed up.”
Ghitale says about ten RCMP officers arrived, and between 40 and 50 newcomers were there.
“They just played basketball and volleyball, and had a great time,” added Ghitale. “They definitely seemed to be having a lot of fun. The funniest part was what we had for basketball. The RCMP had one team and the newcomer youth were the other team. Every time the newcomer youth scored, there were huge cheers in the crowd . Then every time RCMP scored, there were just a little claps in the corner. They were having a good time just beating them. Actually, I think in the end, the RCMP ended up winning, but it was a great time.”
She added everyone was there just having fun. Ghitale says Inspector Paul Peddle just introduced the RCMP to the youth. She notes the youth likely had some very different experiences than what they initially anticipated.
“I think this is the start of a great partnership with the RCMP because they’re so wonderful to work with.”
Ghitale adds they’re showing the Envision Diversity film again tonight (Tuesday) at the PLLC, after having shown it in the theater some time ago. It will then be posted on Youtube after that.