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The Board of the Canadian Kickboxing Association (WAKO Canada) unanimously and wholeheartedly agreed to make Truth and Reconciliation the theme of the 20th anniversary of the sport of kickboxing in Canada including the 2023 Canadian Kickboxing Championship. This prestigious event is being held on March 25 & 26, 2023 in Niagara Falls, Ontario on treaty land where gatherings have been held for hundreds of years.

This land is steeped in the rich history of the First Nations such as the Hatiwendaronk, the Haudenosaunee, and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

 “My parents were child refugees. They lost friends and family before fleeing their country. They eventually found safety and peace in Canada and raised our family here. Growing up they always told me
their stories to remind me that I should always work towards making a better world,” said Muzammal Nawaz, President of WAKO Canada.

“I was devastated when the news of the unmarked children’s graves hit the news last May. As a father, I could not even imagine my children being taken from me, suffering the brutality of a residential school and to then have their lives end like that. I also remembered the stories of my parents and my promise to them.”

The decision of WAKO to focus on this strategic priority grew from the devastating news of the discovery of many unmarked children graves in residential school that swept Canadian media in May 2022. The first such finding located over 200 unmarked graves and since then more than 1700 unmarked graves have been discovered near the former sites of Canadian residential schools. As an organization committed to supporting and safeguarding young people, dedicating the upcoming national championships to the theme of Truth and Reconciliation seemed like an appropriate way to acknowledge and draw attention to the memory of those children who were lost and those who continue to struggle.

WAKO Canada has made Truth and Reconciliation a priority for its association and will be releasing a series initiatives that explore and share the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We will also share the contributions of indigenous athletes, coaches, promoters and leaders within the combative sports sector.

Sport touches all people regardless of age, gender, culture, and nationality. Sport associations can be a major catalyst for this kind of change. This is our responsibility. We are all connected.

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