WinSport launches program to help newcomers integrate into the Calgary community

WinSport is excited to launch a new program that will help newcomers to Canada integrate into the Calgary community by introducing them to winter sport.

The WinSport Newcomers program will welcome 60 newcomers to skate, ski and snowboard lessons at WinSport this winter so they can embrace winter and meet fellow Calgarians.

Barry Heck, WinSport President & CEO says the program is an extension of what WinSport has been doing for decades.

“Since the 1960s, WinSport has been a congregation point for Calgarians to come learn how to ski. And since we hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, we’ve grown to become a premier destination where people of all ages come to ski, snowboard, skate and play hockey,” Heck explains. “We take great pride in welcoming people of all ages and abilities to winter sports where we can help build their confidence in sport and in life. The newcomers program is another way in which we can remove barriers and help integrate our new neighbours to the community.”

The idea was born after the success of a pilot program WinSport ran during the past two winter seasons. WinSport worked with local organizations, including the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) to identify a family interested in participating in a ski lesson. Since 2015, two families took ski lessons. Following the success of the pilot program, CIWA decided to support WinSport’s initiative to expand.

Meanwhile, this past spring the Calgary Christian School held a floor hockey tournament fundraiser, which raised just under $10,000 to help newcomers integrate into Canada.

“Our school welcomes students from all over the world. Because they are new to Calgary, we want them to feel welcomed, and included, and part of what’s happening so that they’ll grow to be confident and active participants in their communities,” said Leona Schaap, communications coordinator for the Calgary Christian School. “WinSport’s Newcomer Program helps our new families integrate into Canadian culture and make Calgary feel like home. We are grateful for the opportunity to support this unique program!”

Instructing sport is nothing new to WinSport, however, introducing sport to newcomers is a relatively new endeavour. To ensure best practices are exercised when introducing newcomers to these sports, WinSport will be working with Simon Barrick, PhD Candidate at the University of Calgary, to adopt best practices in sport integration. His doctoral research involves exploring lived experience of newcomers to Canada in introductory winter sport programs.

WinSport’s partnering with Barrick garnered even more support. Calgarian Bruce Shultz heard about WinSport’s newcomer program and decided to support it though a significant financial donation.

“I was very impressed with Simon Barrick’s research involving the question of identity, inclusion and belongingness of newcomers,” says Shultz. “Sport has played such an important role in my life and I wanted to support the newcomer program. The idea of introducing people new to our country through sport is a great way for them to integrate into our community, meet their new neighbours and begin a shared sense of belonging.”

The support received for the WinSport Newcomers Program will allow WinSport to introduce 60 newcomers to winter lessons. Participants will be placed in groups of 10, which will allow them to connect with others and share the experience together.

How can you help?

WinSport is always looking for people or organizations to donates funds, equipment or clothing so we can continue welcoming newcomers to snow and ice. To put it into perspective, an additional $5,000 would put 15 more people into winter lessons.

Coat Drive

As many newcomers have never experienced winter, they won’t likely have winter apparel. If you would like to donate coats, toques and gloves (no equipment) drop-off areas are set up at the following locations from Oct. 3 – Nov. 13:

Northwest Acura – 125 Crowfoot Way NW

Silverhill Acura – 5728 MacLeod Trail S

Ski Cellar – 5809 Macleod Trail South, 11 Bowridge Drive N.W. or 1442 17 Avenue S.W.

WinSport – 88 Canada Olympic Road SW

MLA Deborah Drever’s Constituency Office – 6307 Bowness Rd NW