Coldest Night of the Year looks to raise funds, awareness

The Grande Prairie region can get cold, and that has adverse effects on the most vulnerable in the community. This Saturday, families will face the elements during the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) fundraiser hosted by the Grande Prairie Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

“A lot of the individuals that we serve are homeless, and the reality is there are people living outside, so I think it's an opportunity for our population to come together and walk in the cold to experience what it's like to be cold,” said Sherilee Crawley, event director.

The organization is looking to raise $50,000 that will go toward programming including the mobile addictions outreach program as well as the purchase of handwarmers, toques and other outerwear for the homeless in Grande Prairie.

As of publishing time, the organization has just passed half its goal, raising $27,775.

Funds will also go to Willow Place, a residence for people coping with mental illness, as well as the recovery college program that through peer support offers free mental health programming, said Crawley.

“We've worked on relationship building, friendships, boundaries, all those important things that you need for your own kind of mental health.”

The need for more mental health support has increased since the pandemic, said Crawley.

“It's a way for people to connect, especially after COVID and seeing that kind of isolation.”

The event will begin with opening remarks at 4 p.m. in front of the Ernie Radbourne Pavilion. Chili and coffee will be served after the walk.

“The more resources and the more awareness and lessening that stigma is going to support the community as a whole,” Crawley said.

Supporters will have the option to walk two or five kilometres around the reservoir at Muskoseepi Park.

“There's going to be door prizes and stuff for kids to do as well as some face painting,” said Crawley. “We're just trying to make it a very fun event night for the whole family.”

Those who raise over $150 (and youth who raise over $75) will receive a CNOY toque.

Registration is available online where you can register a team and donate, or donate on behalf of another team at

People will be able to donate into March to help the CMHA.

“There are also volunteer opportunities, and if businesses wanted to get involved, they could be a sponsor in the event,” said Crawley.

This is the second year of the CNOY event in Grande Prairie.

Last year the event raised $40,304.

The first CNOY started in 2011 in Toronto and has since grown to 166 locations as of 2022, raising over $10 million for different organizations across Canada.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News