Stoke change for good with gift of skiing or snowboarding

Olympian Beckie Scott gets great joy out of seeing a group of young people with rosy-cheeked smiles and a sense of accomplishment after they’ve spent a few hours having fun outside on cross-country skis.

“The individual stories are most inspiring and keeps us doing what we do,” says Scott, one of Canada’s most successful cross-country ski racers with more than 20 medals in world competitions. Scott’s organization, Spirit North, has been giving at-risk kids and minorities the chance to learn a new sport, such as cross-country skiing, since 2009. Today, they work with 6,000 youth annually.

Spirit North Indigenous Youth Cross Country skiing Alberta
These kids share a laugh while learning cross-country skiing with Spirit North.

It’s such a cool and rewarding thing to do, which got us thinking what a wonderful way to make a contribution during the holiday season, or any time of year. The gift can be through your time, expertise or cash. And what more fulfilling way to start the new year, than by supporting organizations that help make a fresh start for so many? 

Supporting Scott’s Spirit North is just one way you can give the gift of skiing or snowboarding – or helping kids get outdoors for a variety of sports. “It’s rewarding work,” says Scott.

The Alberta-based organization is dedicated to improving the lives of Indigenous youth and children who might not otherwise get to play sports or take part in outdoor recreational activities.

Introducing young people to outdoor recreation and sport can be life-changing. If you need proof, just read this SnowSeekers story the First Nations Snowboarding Team (FNST) who competed in the 2010 Olympics.

The First Nation's Snowboarding Team cuts the ribbon on the Catskinner quad in Whistler..

Like FNST, Spirit North relies on donations and the expertise of sports leaders in communities across Canada, some of whom live in remote areas without access to rinks or community centres. Over the past decade, Spirit North has expanded its offerings to teaching youth other sports, including equestrian, canoeing and mountain biking.

“The most powerful way to support us is with donations,” says Scott. “We train, certify and employ the highest quality [of leader] we can.” 

Spirit North delivers sport and recreation programs to 6,000 children and youth in schools and communities annually. Some participants have gone on to compete in the Alberta and B.C. Winter Games. 

“They would not have had that opportunity without Spirit North,” says Scott. “Their personal growth, the way that they saw themselves after that experience was truly remarkable.”

Spirit North is just one organization that gives the gift of skiing. There are many ways to donate to a ski-related charity, whether you want to help motivate youth get out into the outdoors or add your voice as a climate change advocate.


Here are a few more charitable organizations you might consider when deciding where you’d like to donate your time or money.

Protect Our Winters 

Are you concerned about the future of our winters and winter sports because of climate change? You can be part of the advocacy group organized by outdoor enthusiasts and known as Protect Our Winters (POW).

Its mission is to be a leading voice for the education and awareness of climate change, and works through retailers, athletes, ski resorts and visual and written content creators.

You can become a member for free, which allows you to use POW’s resource centre to educate yourself on climate change. If you get involved in your own community, there are training sessions to hone your advocacy skills. A cash donation helps POW carry on with its mission and vision.

Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS)

Alberta-based CADS does amazing work with people who are visually, physically or cognitively impaired, teaching them to ski or snowboard. Established in 1961 by then ski school director, Jerry Johnson, who developed the programs, CADS has more than 1,500 volunteers across the country.


If you are an experienced skier or boarder looking for a volunteer opportunity, there are plenty of ski hills in Alberta and B.C., which offer the CADS program. Those ski hills include WinSport in Calgary, Pass Powderkeg in Crowsnest Pass, Sunshine, Lake Louise and many more, and soon Vista Ridge in Fort McMurray. Who knows? You might end up helping a future Paralympian.

If you love the concept, but aren’t in a position to volunteer, you can also make a donation.

Chill Vancouver

If board sports are your passion, then Chill Canada, established in 1995 with programs now in Toronto and Vancouver, will appeal to your philanthropic side. The Vancouver-based organization, also active in the US, was created by the folks behind Burton Snowboards: Jake and Donna Carpenter.

Their team works with more than 3,000 young people annually through schools, youth agencies, board sports partners and social programs to introduce 10- to 18-years-old to snowboarding, skateboarding and stand-up paddleboarding. The idea is to build resiliency and confidence while having fun at the same time.

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