Snow covered mountain

Giving Tuesday and giving back to the outdoors

A mountain of thanks to all 6 million MEC members, long-standing and new – your support helps MEC give back to the outdoor community. We’re proud to partner with incredible Canadian organizations all year long through our Outdoor Impact program. For Giving Tuesday, we’re pumped to share that MEC and Smartwool have teamed up to donate $10,000 to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), thanks to the success of our special sock week offer.

If you haven’t met our Outdoor Impact partners, we highly recommend checking them out below. They’re doing awesome work to get more people outside on Giving Tuesday and the other 364 days of the year.

The gift of nature

CPAWS is dedicated to the protection of Canada’s public land, ocean, and freshwater. With MEC’s support, they’re holding the federal government accountable for its commitments to protect 25% of Canada’s land and ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Canyon and forest view

Incredible landscapes of Stikine Canyon, Tahltan Territory. Photo: Adam Combs (via CPAWS).

Highlights from 2021:

  • First CPAWS Report Card for Canada: tracks and assessed how Canada did against its targets or protecting land and ocean.
  • Release of the MPA Monitor: investigates how well-protected and well-managed Canada’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) really are.

The gift of empowering youth outdoors

Spirit North empowers Indigenous youth to be unstoppable in sport, school and life. Through the transformative power of sport and play, Spirit North helps youth find the courage to take on any challenge, develop leadership skills, improve health and wellness, discover new talents and unlock limitless potential. See their latest impact report.

Kids mountain biking and having fun

Highlights from 2020–21:

  • Programming with impact: delivered programs to over 2,700 Indigenous youth across 40 communities, including in-school and after-school sessions, knowledge and skill building events.
  • Trail building: worked with 10 communities to develop trail networks to create a legacy that supports and inspires community recreation for generations to come.
  • New regional programs: in Terrace, Kitsumkalum and the Nass Valley that provided mountain bike skills to youth aged 7–14.

The gift of real change

The mission of Protect Our Winters (POW) Canada is to turn outdoor enthusiasts into climate advocates. MEC’s support has allowed POW to dig deep on policy advocacy, diversity, equity and inclusion, and community building.

Highlights from 2020–21:

  • More educational programming and training: to grow POW membership to 22,736 climate action advocates.
  • POW Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan: diversity and equity in the outdoors is integral to solving climate change; this plan includes DEI training for POW staff, board and ambassadors.
  • Support of advocacy work: on Bill C-12 and the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, likely the single most important piece of climate policy ever passed.

The gift of winter safety

Avalanche safety training is so important for winter backcountry trips, and MEC has supported Avalanche Canada since 2001. They offer mountain weather forecasts, a free avalanche forecast app, and Avy Savvy – a free online avalanche tutorial to take before a training program.

Digging a snow pit for avalanche safety

South Rockies field team member preparing to do a snow profile. Photo: Jennifer Coulter (via Avalanche Canada).

Highlights from 2020–21:

The gift of more time outside

Take Me Outside believes in a future where spending time outside learning, playing and exploring is a regular and significant part of every student’s day. They work with organizations, schools and individuals to encourage kids to spend more time outside.

Highlights from 2021:

  • More programming for Take Me Outside Day: 9,000 teachers and 400,000 students participated, and it included presentations with Indigenous storytellers, Olympic athletes and Dr. Jane Goodall.
  • Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge: doubled in growth from 2020 – 6,700 teachers signed on! It’s a commitment to outdoor learning and taking your class outside once a week.
  • Student video contest: Check out the winning videos from creative students.

The gift of camping for the first time

For a decade, MEC and Parks Canada have worked together to provide Learn-to Camp. It aims to instill confidence and outdoor skills so new campers can discover the joy of tents and s’mores. Although 2021 looked a little different, Parks Canada has still hosted 844 Learn-to Camp events (virtual and in-person) so far to help folks get outdoors responsibly, along with at-home activities on the Parks Canada website.

Highlights from 2021:

  • Outreach booths: free info sessions at popular trailheads to introduce people to Parks Canada, camping and outdoor safety.
  • Learn-to Camp free workshops: virtual and in-person workshops for families and newcomer organizations to learn camping skills, safety considerations and tips about camping in national parks.
  • Regional programs: new Learn-to Paddle activities in Montreal, and lending camping gear to interested organizations in Saskatoon and Edmonton.

New to camping? Check out Learn-to Camp tips and keep an eye out for future Learn-to Camp events.

The gift of gigantic adventures

We have a rich history of partnership with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), which trains and certifies guides and instructors in climbing, backcountry skiing, hiking and more. MEC supports their Adventure Access program to fund schools, clubs and youth groups to hire ACMG-certified guides and instructors for outdoor adventure trips.

Group of people on a rocky mountain peak

Past ACMG teens outing to the Bugaboos in BC.

Highlights from 2021:

  • MEC Adventure Access Program: for groups that represent youth, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, adaptive and marginalized communities to access subsidies for certified guides and instructors for exciting trips. There are enough barriers to recreating outside – money shouldn’t be an added one.
  • Community scholarships: tuition support to the next generation of ACMG guides.
  • DEI training: for ACMG members and instructors on diversity, equity and inclusion and mental health issues to better support outdoor communities.

The gift of caring for the wild

As a founding member of Leave No Trace Canada, MEC supports its mission to promote the responsible use of outdoor spaces through education, research and partnerships. Their training and programs show that even small changes in behavior can have monumental impacts on the outdoors.

Highlight from 2021:

  • Plans for public education: We’re working together on videos and content to spread the word about Leave No Trace to share with the community of people exploring outside… stay tuned!

Learn about the 7 principles of Leave No Trace.

The gift of visiting parks

Parkbus connects city dwellers with nature through accessible transportation, and operates bus services to national and provincial parks. MEC partners with Parkbus to run two special programs focused on community building, education, inclusion and diversity: ActiveDays and NatureLink.

Group of people on a Parkbus hike

Pre-COVID Parkbus event – we can’t wait to see all trips back in full effect again.

Highlights from 2021:

  • ActiveDays is back: with restrictions easing, Toronto and Vancouver ActiveDays programs returned with 1,900 participants so far!
  • More NatureLink programs: subsidized transportation to outdoor spaces, plus programs and adventures for newcomers, with 500 participants this year (and counting). Thanks to MEC’s support, Parkbus is recruiting new partners for NatureLink – if you’re a non-profit working with new Canadians and low-income individuals or families, find out more.

The gift of backcountry trips

MEC’s annual funding supports the operation and maintenance of the Alpine Club of Canada’s hut network, along with initiatives such as Girls on Ice and women’s only climbing camps to help more folks access the backcountry.

People raising their hands in the distance on a mountaintop

Highlights from 2021:

  • Women’s climbing camps: the ACC’s Women’s Program expanded to team up with Darken the Mountains and Colour The Trails, bringing inclusivity to outdoor spaces through subsidized mountaineering trips that build upon mountaineering skills for communities of BIPOC women.
  • Girls on Ice Canada: a unique, tuition-free wilderness science expedition. This year, accompanied by certified mountain guides, scientists and artists, a team of young women spent 12 days exploring and studying ecosystems in Glacier National Park. MEC supports Girls on Ice Canada through diversity, equity and inclusivity funding.
  • Philippe Delesalle Memorial Grant: given annually to underprivileged youth, this grant aims to expand access to alpine experiences, knowledge and culture to more Canadians. The next deadline to apply is January 31, 2022.

The gift of inspiring expeditions

Best known for its Canadian Geographic magazine, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society also supports the outdoor community with expedition grants and scholarships for cutting-edge geographical research. MEC is proud to support these expedition programs.

Expedition camp on a glacier

Women's Expedition Grant to Mt. Lucania, with Pascale Marceau in camp on the Donjek Glacier. Photo: The Royal Canadian Geographical Society/Eva Capozzola.

Highlights from 2021:

  • Expedition grant program: expeditions are currently underway! This year, MEC funding supported all the Society’s expedition grants, including the Women’s Expedition and the Indigenous Expedition grants, as well as the Expedition of the Year. Have an expedition goal for 2022? Applications are now open (deadline is January 7, 2022).
  • Outfitting for expedition teams: when you’re exploring in extreme conditions, you need gear that can withstand harsh conditions. Expedition teams are outfitted with MEC gear to support their adventures.

Thanks again, MEC members. In 2021, MEC’s Outdoor Impact program is donating $1 million to Canadian outdoor organizations to teach outdoor skills, protect wild spaces, and grow the communities of people getting active outside. We’re looking forward to another year of giving back to the outdoors ahead.

Caitlin Brown
Caitlin Brown

All about friends, food and epics in the mountains, preferably together. Community manager at MEC. Pronouns: she/her.