This winter, SkiBig3 partnered with Community Connections in the Bow Valley to help 12 immigrant community members ski for the first time. This partnership is another example of how local businesses and community support programs are working together to make the Bow Valley a place where permanent and temporary residents can live, work, play, and thrive.
SkiBig3 partners with Community Connections
After piloting two Learn-to-Ski sessions during the 21/22 season with Darken the Slopes, a grassroots movement that encourages more inclusivity in the outdoors, this season SkiBig3 worked with Community Connections (a program of Settlement Services in the Bow Valley) to help even more immigrants access Banff and Lake Louise’s famous ski areas. The partnership resulted in two free Learn-to-Ski events, hosted at Mt. Norquay (March 29) and Banff Sunshine (April 7) with lift tickets, rentals, snow gear, full-day lessons, and complimentary ski shuttles included.
Lake Louise Ski Resort offered a similar Never-Ever Days program this winter in partnership with Immigrant Services Calgary.
Local partnerships remove barriers for newcomers
The events at Banff Sunshine and Mt. Norquay were part of Community Connections’ introduction to Canadian sports series, an all-season calendar of more than 20 affordable events per year designed to remove the barriers that limit newcomers from getting into the outdoors. The events help new community members build a stronger sense of place and make new friends. Past events have included canoeing at the Banff Canoe Club and cross-country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Center.
As Javanshir Mukhtarov, Community Connections Coordinator, commented, “[events like these] make newcomers feel at home by providing an opportunity that is truly Canadian.” He continued, “there’s a lot of community effort to make these events successful; they wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for all of the local partners in the community.”
Bow Valley helps permanent and temporary workers achieve work-life balance
While Settlement Services in the Bow Valley is funded to provide Permanent Residents of Canada support like free individual and family counselling, information sessions, community networking opportunities, and recreation events, there are many other programs in the Bow Valley that help temporary residents thrive as well.
BanffLIFE, offered by the Town of Banff, is dedicated to helping young residents (18-30) achieve a healthy work-life balance while living in Banff and Lake Louise. Through their Mountain Adventure programs, young workers can take full advantage of their gap year or working holiday and try things like outdoor rock climbing, stand up paddleboarding, or scrambling up Mt. Temple. All activities are offered at an extremely affordable cost, often with gear and transportation included, thanks to the generous support of the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation.
In addition, Foreign Worker Support helps workers from abroad who aspire to stay in Canada understand the path to permanent residency, offering document assistance and even free legal advice.
“Banff is not just a party town,” says Mukhtarov, “the town actually has a lot of social programs that make it feel like a place you can come and live and call home.”
Looking for your next summer adventure?
This summer, Banff and Lake Louise look forward to welcoming back workers looking for opportunity and adventure in the mountains. With a wide range of jobs available in tourism and hospitality, new residents can find their perfect fit. Plus, free career coaching and staff housing guidance from the Bow Valley’s Job Resource Centre makes it easier than ever to work and play in Banff National Park.
Residents who are interested in learning more about Community Connections, or the other programs mentioned, are encouraged to enquire with the Town of Banff, in-person or online.