New Canadians learn to cross-country ski in Fredericton

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New Canadians learn to cross-country ski in Fredericton

New Canadians in the Fredericton area strode into winter activities this year with help from the Wostawea Ski Club and 30 pairs of skis.

The club purchased the skis for an outreach program and worked with the Multicultural Association of Fredericton to offer ski lessons to newcomers over the past couple weeks.

The response was stunning, an organizer says.

"We were thinking 30 participants," said Wostawea ski coach Robert Morimanno. "I think there was close to a hundred people who were interested."

Margarethe Ghanem, who is originally from the Philippines, said this was her first experience with cross-country skiing.

"We feel welcome, and it's a lot of fun, especially for the kids," said Ghanem, who has been in Fredericton since August 2016.

"We came from a tropical country, where we didn't have snow, so this is all very exciting for us."

Morimanno said it's been incredible to be part of the process, which goes beyond skiing. 

"This is one community reaching out to another," he said. "This is one community welcoming and sharing." 

Because of the overwhelming response, the ski club offered two sessions a week to accommodate the demand, and as a result about 60 new Canadians have been gliding through the snowy trails at Killarney Lake.

Club members enthusiastic

Morimanno said there was also an overwhelming response from club volunteers to pitch in to teach the course.

Because skiing is new to most of the participants, the instructors started with games to teach the kids and worked on techniques for the adults before taking them touring the trails.

Morimanno said he's impressed with how fast the participants are catching on after a couple of lessons. 

"In Canada, if you're born here, you kind of have this innate sense of how, it feels to be on snow, how the snow responds to your weight and the ice and whatnot.

"And just after a few times, you already see tremendous progress."