Manitoba

Game on: After New Zealand tragedy, café owner hopes Muslims, non-Muslims can bond over board games

After the murder of 50 worshippers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Olaf Pyttlik wanted to do something to show Muslim Winnipeggers that their city is behind them. So the café owner decided to use what he knows best: board games.

Event aims to show that 'there is a different way of dealing with each other,' says Across the Board owner

Olaf Pyttlik, owner of Across The Board in the Exchange District, and Tasneem Vali, a volunteer with the Manitoba Islamic Association. Pyttlik is organizing a board game night at his café to bring together Muslims and non-Muslims as a show of solidarity after 50 people were killed this month at mosques in New Zealand. (Sarah Petz/CBC)

After the murder of 50 worshippers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this month, Olaf Pyttlik wanted to do something to show Muslim Winnipeggers that their city is behind them. 

So the café owner decided to use what he knows best: board games.

Pyttlik reached out to the Muslim community and has organized a board game night at Across the Board, his Exchange District board game café, which will bring people together Monday night over a classic pastime.

"Specifically, we invited members of the Muslim community," he said.

"And we invited pretty much anyone else who wants to join and get to know some new friends, play games with them, and build a connection and hopefully bridge some of the cultural divide that seems to be happening around the world."

Pyttlik was on his way back from a board game conference in Nevada with a colleague when he saw news about the March 15 Christchurch tragedy unfolding on airport TV screens. He says he knew then that he had to do something once he got home.

"Because Across the Board is a place of community, and we have the means to get people together in a fun and positive environment, we saw this as the perfect reaction to what we just saw," he said.

'This is Winnipeg' 

Tasneem Vali, a volunteer with the Manitoba Islamic Association, is helping with the event. She said it means a lot to know that she's supported by her community.

"I kind of expected something like this to happen, because this is Winnipeg," she said.

The event will run from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday at the café, which is at the corner of Main Street and Bannatyne Avenue. Free food will be provided by Shawarma Khan.

Pyttlik says he's also received "boxes and boxes" of donations of board games from publishers ahead of the event.

Organizers are asking for a minimum donation of $10 to participate, which will be given to Welcome Place — also known as the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council — which provides settlement services for refugees and immigrants living in Manitoba.

At the end of the night, Pyttlik said he hopes people from different walks of life can bond over a mutual love of board games.

"I want to see people from different cultures and different backgrounds sitting at one table and getting to know each other and having a few laughs and smiling," he said.

"Make a stand and show the local community and the world that there is a different way of dealing with each other."

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