Summer may be just around the corner but students at the Penticton Indian Band’s Outma Sqilx’W Cultural School are already looking forward to the first snowfall of the year.
That’s because Spirit North community leader Perianne Jones just dropped off an early Christmas present in the form of 20 pairs of snowshoes this week.
For the last two years, Spirit North, an Alberta non-profit organization, has operated an Indigenous cross country ski and snowshoeing program at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.
“Now, the kids and their teachers can use them during gym class during winter, when there’s snow. If they want to bring them to Nickel Plate on ski day they will have the option or snowshoeing or skiing,” said Jones. “It will open up the opportunities for after-school programming for us so that we can do right here at Outma rather than travelling all the way up to Nickel Plate. We can also choose different locations in and around Penticton to make it a bit closer to have an adventure and explore.”
Started by Olympic medalist Beckie Scott, the program is two-fold, getting kids active and connecting children to the land.
“This is amazing because it just adds to the opportunities that we’ve already had with Spirit North,” said Outma principal Steve Bentley about the gift of the snowshoes. “I’m so very grateful. It’s a great program and they’ve done just such a fantastic job with us.”
The programbegins each fall at the schools, when instructors start working with the kids, doing land-based training in preparation for the ski season.
Skis are provided for students and their families at no charge, which they can use whenever they go to the centre.