Ski

Vancouver refugees are hitting the slopes

The Immigrant Services Society of BC has partnered with Mount Seymour to give newcomer families a break in the snow

March 29, 2016

By Eliot Escalona / Photo: Paacter Gudella

After a long and trying  journey, many newcomers and refugee families in Vancouver are still struggling to find homes, jobs, and settle down as new members of their adopted city. And while their challenges are far from over, the ISS of BC and Mount Seymour want to give them a break—specifically, a break in the snow. On April 3, Seymour is inviting up 300 guests to spend the day on the slopes for free. Two hundred of the expected guests will be invited by the ISS of BC, which leaves 100 spots available for any new immigrant families looking to have their first taste of the North Shore mountains.

The snow won’t be a new experience for many of them, but they’ll get the chance to interact with it in ways that almost certainly are, like snowshoeing and tubing. The biggest hurdle, though, might be getting there in the first place. For recent immigrant families, after all, the exhaustive work of adapting to their new city—not to mention the equipment and travel expenses involved in skiing, for example—can deter them from experiencing the local mountains in the first place. First Snow aims to change that, and while almost all of the preparations are in place—along with a large group of Mt. Seymour pass holders that have stepped up to volunteer—there’s still a chance for others to pitch in. Specifically, Mount Seymour is still looking to receive more lightly worn children’s clothing such as ski pants, jackets, and winter boots, and there are various locations where you can drop off donations before April 3.

Sandra Kadel, one of the organizers of First Snow, says she’s “happy to see so many Vancouverites working together to create a great experience up on Mount Seymour for the newcomer families and make them feel welcome.” But First Snow does more than make new families feel welcome. It’s a chance for Vancouverites to share the natural playgrounds around us that we so dearly treasure—and, to some extent, that define who we are.

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