Cross Lake finishes on top at First Nations firefighter competition

Thompson’s first time as host of the Manitoba First Nations Firefighters Competition on Aug. 1 was memorable for two of the Northern Manitoba teams among the 10 participating teams, as Cross Lake took first overall and a berth in the national competition, while Garden Hill finished third behind Sagkeeng.

The champions move on to the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada National Firefighter Competition in Rama, Ont. on Aug. 15.

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Other teams competing at the event at the Thompson Regional Community Centre parking lot included Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the Northlands Densuline First Nation at Lac Brochet, Ebb and Flow, Lake Manitoba and St. Theresa Point. Women’s teams from Garden Hill and St. Theresa Point also competed.

“Everything went great,” said Ivban Hart of Keewatin Tribal Council, which hosted the event. “The teams that were there enjoyed the weekend in Thompson. I heard nothing but good comments about Thompson being the host.”

northlands fire fighters
The Northlands Denesuline First Nation at Lac Brochet was one of eight communities represented at the Manitoba First Nations Firefighter Competition in Thompson Aug. 1. - Ian Graham

Competitors took part in hose rolling, high-flow knockdown, endurance relay and self-contained breathing apparatus relay (SCBA) events, along with a bucket brigade that saw Thompson Fire & Emergency Services (TFES) compete against the Garden Hill women’s team.

“That was a fun event for them,” said Hart, adding that organizers and competitors were thankful for everyone else who chipped in, including the provincial Office of the Fire Commissioner, which assisted with organization and provided equipments, as well as TFES.

“They were a huge help,” said Hart. “They provided all of the officials. Without them, this event wouldn’t be possible.”

TFES Chief John Maskerine said the nine department members who served as officials as well as the station crew who were on standby for medical assistance were happy to help and to have the competition in Thompson.

first nations firefighters competition group photos aug 1 2015
Competitors and officials pose at the Manitoba First Nations Firefighters competition in Thompson Aug. 1. - Ivan Hart

“We met some firefighters that we never met before from down south and up north,” said Maskerine. “By the middle of the competition it was like one big family having fun. We had a heck of a good time.”

No matter where they’re from, said Maskerine, firefighters share a common bond.

“We’re all doing the same job, sometimes with a little less equipment,” he said.

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