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Introducing this year’s MEC Avalanche Safety Grant recipients

February 9, 2023

Found in Community news

MEC and Avalanche Canada go way back – all the way to 2001, when we first started supporting their programs to educate more people about avalanche safety. Fast forward a couple of decades, and we’re pumped to partner with them on their latest initiative: the MEC Avalanche Safety Grant.

This grant provides Avalanche Canada Training courses to four organizations serving IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour) communities. 2022 was the second year this grant has been offered, and we’re super excited to announce this year’s recipients. Each group is organizing an Avalanche Skills Training course with the provider of their choice for up to eight of their members:

  • Indigenous Women Outdoors: a non-profit that helps First Nations women and non-binary folks reconnect to their traditional territories and Indigenous roots through backcountry sports in the Sea-to-Sky area.

  • Mountain Mentors: a non-profit in the Sea-to-Sky area with the goal of creating backcountry spaces where everyone belongs and can safely participate.

  • The Howl Experience: provides alternative outdoor education programs in the Rocky Mountains for Indigenous, low-income, and marginalized youth.

  • Zero Ceiling: Based in Whistler, this group aims to end youth homelessness in BC. They provide opportunities for marginalized young adults to develop skills, confidence, and connections through mountain recreation.

We support this grant as part of our MEC Outdoor Impact program, which aims to teach outdoor skills, protect wild spaces, and grow the communities of people getting active outside. As part of all this good stuff, we aim celebrate and encourage inclusivity in the outdoors through community support.

“We've put a larger focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the work we do with our national partners, which includes co-developing grants available to IBPOC-led organizations and supporting DEI training and development at partner organizations,” says Caitlin Brown, MEC Community Manager. “This grant is an example of how, together with Avalanche Canada, we’re striving to make the outdoors more inclusive.”

The MEC Avalanche Safety Grant was established to provide greater access to outdoor opportunities for racialized Canadians. Backcountry Access (BCA) also contributed to this initiative by providing two boxes of safety gear, each with eight sets of avalanche transceivers, shovels, and probes.

“Avalanche Canada recognizes that some groups face disproportionate barriers in accessing winter backcountry pursuits in Canada,” explains Gilles Valade, Executive Director of Avalanche Canada. “We are very impressed with the work being done by these four organizations and are grateful to partner with MEC to provide them with avalanche safety education.”

Congrats to this year’s grant recipients – it’s awesome to see the work you’re doing outdoors.

Top photo: One of the 2021 MEC Avalanche Safety Grant training course recipients in action, with K8 Mountaineering group learning skills for the winter backcountry. Photo credit: Leanne Allison

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