If your neighbour’s singing is starting to sound more like Chewbacca than Adele, or that a chronic cougher in your family is making you miss the art of dead silence, maybe it’s time to leave your house and face North America’s biggest challenge; the winter outdoors.
In order to encourage Kahnawa’kehró:non to go outside this season, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake’s Sports and Recreation Unit (SRU) teamed up with Kahnawake Youth Centre (KYC) to launch Rediscover Winter, a series of activities and opportunities planned for the community.
Whether it’s through ice skating, snowshoeing or skiing, SRU manager Mackenzie Whyte said that the goal remains the same - to get as much sun and fresh air as possible.
“A lot of people are reconnecting with nature, they haven’t been outside in a long time,” said Whyte. “Before, it was all about working out in a gym, or organized sports outside. It’s a whole different experience when you are out in nature.”
Since the beginning of January, community members were invited to explore cross-country skiing, the latest COVID-19 trend that gained fervent popularity. While some community members used to trace their own trails, this is the first time that SRU is maintaining paths across the territory themselves. As the trails start next to the soccer field of Kahnawake Survival School, Whyte advised that people park on the old road leading to the school to prevent getting locked up in the parking lot.
The SRU manager said that they are receiving great feedback from people enjoying the initiative, but Whyte knows that it hasn’t reached its full potential yet.
“We got a little bit held up with the equipment ordering,” she said, “we are still waiting for some of the items to come in, such as the cross-country skiing and the fat bikes. Hopefully, they will be in the few next weeks.”
The SRU is planning on offering outdoor equipment, not to rent, but rather to borrow. Instructive demonstrations of the sports were also planned, but had to be put on hold due to the post-holiday COVID-19 surge.
“Now that it seems to be leveling, I’m not sure how our outfitters will feel, if they will be able to do it,” said Whyte. “We are kind of in-between.”
Whyte added that the SRU is looking into recording tutorial videos to help with the activity’s technical aspects. In the meantime, all the venues are available for the community, which includes the oval skating rink at the Kahnawake Sports Complex, one at the old School House area and another on top of the Clay Mountains.
But the pièce de résistance for a more romantic evening is the KYC’s rink near Onake Paddling Club.
“For our part, the Youth Center will be creating and maintaining a lighted skating rink and trail for nighttime family fun,” said KYC executive director Kyle Zacharie in a press release.
With more than a month left of great cold weather, Rediscover Winter is meant to be a cheerful, uplifting option for not only outdoor lovers. Whyte encouraged anyone to give it a try, while respecting social distancing and other safety measures.
“A lot of people aren’t used to outdoor activities, so dress warmly and layer appropriately,” said Whyte. “And even though it’s winter, don’t forget to hydrate!”
And remember... wool before cotton.
Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door