Ski Project Welcomes New Canadians



SaltWire Network


Apilot project launching this winter aims to make cross-country skiing more welcoming and diverse. The New Canadians on Skis program is a collaboration among Cross Country Nova Scotia, Scotia XC Ski Club, and the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS). Registration took place in November and the skiing is expected to start in mid-January at The Links at Brunello golf course in Timberlea. The $5,010 in funding came from Nordiq Canada, which successfully applied for money from Sport Canada’s Community Sport for All Initiative. The volunteers running the New Canadians on Skis project embraced the opportunity to make the sport more inclusive. “We’re very aware that we’re incredibly privileged to not face the barriers to participation in our sport,” says John Cameron, the project lead, and a member at Scotia XC Ski Club. “We all love skiing. I think we all love to share that passion for our sport with other people.” The club, CCNS and ISANS identified barriers and then went about finding ways to reduce them. Equipment cost and transportation were among the more obvious ones. Inroads for equipment access have been made through past initiatives. About 15 years ago, the Scotia club started stockpiling equipment for those wanting to try the sport. More equipment, mainly in youth sizing, is available, thanks to the school ski program, which used past grants from Sport Nova Scotia to build its collection. To make learning less intimidating for newcomers, organizers designed three specific approaches: • A series of Try It events • Participation by new Canadian children and youth in regular Scotia club programs • A New to Snow learn-to-ski program for adult new Canadians The goal is to hold three Try It events with about 25 people in each session. Eleven kids are confirmed for the youth program and seven adults are signed up for the New to Snow program. Based on experience, instructors identified a need to tailor lessons for adults new to snow. “They haven’t grown up with those movement skills and so that comfort level with slipping and sliding on snow is something that needs to be learned,” Cameron says. “Most people born in Canada learn that comfort growing up. It’s just part of their experience of playing on snow and ice as kids.” The increase in the number of new Canadians seeking the opportunity to ski and the success of past Try It events made the pilot project a natural next step. A pre-pandemic one-day Fun on Skis event put on a couple of years ago with ISANS went particularly well. The coaches and volunteers could readily see the benefits, and the feedback was immediate. Reports from ISANS told of kids who described the experience as the best day of their life. “When that’s the feedback you’re getting, it provides a huge extra boost in the whole motivation to be putting the effort into organizing and carrying out a project like this,” Cameron says. The New Canadians on Skis project is looking for volunteers for various roles. Cross-country ski and coaching experience helpful – but not required. Please contact John Cameron at John. Cameron@Dal.Ca or email