Four Organizations Serving IBPOC Communities Receive MEC Avalanche Safety Grant

Indigenous Women Outdoors, Mountain Mentors, The Howl Experience, and Zero Ceiling receive grants for AST course

Avalanche Canada is pleased to announce the recipients of the Mountain Equipment Company (MEC) Avalanche Safety Grant, which provides Avalanche Canada Training courses to four organizations serving IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour) communities.

“Avalanche Canada recognizes that some groups face disproportionate barriers in accessing winter backcountry pursuits in Canada,” explains Gilles Valade, Executive Director of Avalanche Canada. “We are very impressed with the work being done by these four organizations and are grateful to partner with MEC to provide them with avalanche safety education.”

The grant recipients are:

  • Indigenous Women Outdoors is a non-profit that helps First Nations women and non-binary folks reconnect to their traditional territories and Indigenous roots through backcountry sports in the Sea-to-Sky area.
  • Mountain Mentors is a non-profit in the Sea-to-Sky area with the goal of creating backcountry spaces where everyone belongs and can safely participate.
  • The Howl Experience provides alternative outdoor education programs in the Rocky Mountains for Indigenous, low-income, and marginalized youth.
  • Zero Ceiling, based in Whistler, aims to end youth homelessness in B.C. They provide opportunities for marginalized young adults to develop skills, confidence, and connections through mountain recreation.

“We recognize that backcountry activities are not accessible nor representative of the diversity that exists in our communities,” says Rosie Langford, President of Mountain Mentors. “We are excited to be able to offer safe, empowering, and fun avalanche safety education to our community members."

Five members of Mountain Mentors standing in front of a ski lift smiling at the camera.

Members of Mountain Mentors attended the Whistler Blackcomb Patrol Day last winter where they learned about avalanche safety and first aid best practices from avalanche and snow patrol professionals. Image by JoJo Das. 

Thanks to generous funding from MEC, each group is organizing an Avalanche Skills Training course with the provider of their choice for up to eight of their members.

“MEC wants to celebrate and encourage inclusivity in the outdoors through community support. We've put a larger focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the work we do with our national partners, which includes co-developing grants available to IBPOC-led organizations and supporting DEI training and development at partner organizations,” says Caitlin Brown, community manager for MEC. “The MEC Avalanche Safety Grant is an example of how, together with Avalanche Canada, we’re striving to make the outdoors more inclusive.”

The MEC Avalanche Safety Grant was established to provide greater access to outdoor opportunities for racialized Canadians. Backcountry Access (BCA) also contributed to this initiative by providing two boxes of safety gear, each with eight sets of avalanche transceivers, shovels, and probes.

Avalanche Canada is supported by MEC’s Outdoor Impact Program.