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Three speakers at the MEC x POW Canada Season Opener event

Protecting our winters, one event at a time

December 9, 2022

Found in Community news

It’s good to be back. After two years of online MEC x POW Canada Season Opener events, we finally kicked off ski season in real life again. There were sweet ski films. Athlete panels chatting about climate change. Virtual reality backcountry huts. A prize stack deeper than first tracks on a big powder day… and so much more.

We’ve been partners with Protect Our Winters Canada since 2018, and we were proud to donate all Season Opener event proceeds to their mission of action against climate change – which added up to over $21,000 in total. A huge thank you to the hundreds of people who joined us, along with our key sponsor Arc’teryx.

If you missed out (or want to see if you can spot yourself in any of the photos), check out the highlights.

A large crowd at the MEC x POW Canada Season Opener event

Photo: Galen Exo / @galenexo

Our Vancouver community was first up, and even though the ski hills hadn’t opened yet, people were ready to fill the MEC Vancouver store both upstairs and down. A sold out event with over 300 people in attendance – amazing.

Four speakers at the MEC x POW Canada Season Opener event

Photo: Galen Exo / @galenexo

We were honoured to welcome local athletes and climate action advocates to every Season Opener. In Vancouver, speakers Greg Hill, Ben Pelto, Sandy Ward and Yuki Tsubota spoke about the importance of community in the outdoors, why they feel connected to POW Canada, and their experience of climate change in action.

After watching the film Imperfect Advocate with Graham Zimmerman and learning about action over perfection, one of our audience members commented that we shouldn't “be fearful or guilty, just be inspired to make a change.” Our goal is to learn and improve, not be perfect. 

"We don't have to do 100 things perfectly, we don't have to do 100 things imperfectly, let's just start doing something." – POW Athlete Erin Mielzynski

People trying out virtual reality glasses, looking up

Photo: Galen Exo / @galenexo

Yes, we were in person, but we couldn’t resist a little virtual reality. Arc’teryx brought their backcountry hut experience to each of the events. (If you ever have the chance to try it out, highly recommend. It’s like stepping into a backcountry hut, but without the smell of sweaty ski gear.)

A group of people watching presentation at the MEC x POW Canada Season Opener event

Photo: Enzo Fabrizio Cuyan-Lopez / @clenzof

At all our events, we showed the film Sunbirds, a beautiful ode to winter. Our outdoor Montreal event got a unique chance to hear first-hand what it was like to create the film from director Alexa Fay and producer Sophie Claivaz-Lorangez.

The Montreal speaker panel at the MEC x POW Canada Season Opener event

Photo: Enzo Fabrizio Cuyan-Lopez / @clenzof

The Montreal speaker panel included POW Canada host Arianne Dufour, Émilie Richard (from Les Chèvres de Montagne), Alexa Fay, Sophie Claivaz-Lorange, and Dominic Boucher (from Avalanche Quebec). We talked about community and the changes to winter in Quebec over time.

A group of people at the POW merch table

Photo: Christina Fast /

Protect Our Winters Canada signed up about 450 new members at the event – so awesome! Each new member is a vote for our environment. It’s free to join.

Three speakers at the MEC x POW Canada Season Opener event

Photo: Eric Moniz / @ericmoniz

In Toronto, POW Canada’s Executive Director Ali Wines and two incredible POW athletes, Mario Rigby and Erin Mielzynski, were our panelists for the evening.

Mario’s focus is on sustainable adventures, and he spoke about his experience growing up in Turks and Caicos Islands, walking across Africa, and how transitioning away from fossil fuels can help remediate the disproportionate impacts of climate change affecting Black and other marginalized communities globally. Erin shared her experience in the Olympics and the changes in snow conditions she’s seen over the years. 

With current projections, the Ontario community can expect the ski areas they grew up on to disappear by 2080, as the average snow season would be less than 20 days, bringing a positive urgency to the discussion.

Four members of the Calgary panel at the MEC x POW Canada Season Opener event

Photo: Christina Fast /

In Calgary, winter arrived in full force… which was great for the snow pack, but not great for our outdoor event plans. A huge thank you to Commonwealth Bar for donating their space as we shifted venues.

Our Calgary panelists Haley Daniels, Thana Boonlert, Karson Sudlow and Cassie Ayoungman encouraged everyone to reach out to our local leaders and tell them what matters to their voters, along with encouraging positive conversations with friends and family around climate change. Calgary had a ton of electric crowd energy, plenty of laughs, and a grand prize winner who jumped out of his seat. An awesome way to cap it all off.

MEC water bottles and hats

Photo: Galen Exo / @galenexo

There were prizes a-plenty at each event, including epic grand prizes that combined $250 MEC gift cards with guided backcountry ski/board trips for the winner and five friends.

Snow community: we were so happy to see you in person again. Massive thank you to all the MEC staffers, volunteers, and our sponsors: Arc’teryx, Guru, Rittersport, FATMAP and local breweries – we couldn't have done it without you. See you on the mountain.

For more photos from the event, check out our full Facebook album.

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