By Jane Marshall
seejanewrite.ca

The Edmonton Journal reports that between 2011 and 2016, 207,790 people immigrated to Alberta. Welcome!

Campers Village is a place for people who love the outdoors. We want to help you prepare for Alberta’s intense (but really fun!) winters. If you’re coming from a warm climate, there might be a 50 or even 60 degree temperature difference.

Here’s what some newcomers say about adjusting to Alberta winters:

 

The most important thing is to dress appropriately and ensure you get outside. Bitter temperatures might drive you indoors, but this can lead to Vitamin D deficiency and SAD (seasonal effective disorder). It can also lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Being in nature during daylight hours is so important.

We’ll help you prepare.

Winter Clothes: How to Stay Warm in an Alberta Winter

On cold, windy days, exposed skin can freeze within minutes, so cover yourself with mittens, a toque (Canadian for warm hat!), and a scarf.

A good quality winter jacket is fairly expensive, but it’s probably the best investment you can make. Look for good insulation and a wind-resistant outer layer. Wear multiple layers underneath.

To keep your legs warm, try long underwear or tights under your pants or skirt.

Don’t Forget your Feet

Buy insulated waterproof tall boots with a temperature rating of at least -25 Celsius. Bogs are extremely warm and waterproof and made for all ages.

Long socks and double socks also help.

Outdoor Winter Fun

Here are some ideas to help you connect with winter!

Winter Picnicking in Edmonton. Make a fire in a bbq pit. You can roast dinner or Canadian s’mores. Bring a blanket to sit on. And don’t forget the frisbee!

The City of Edmonton has a whole publication of winter activities just for you:

Priceless Fun 2017/18

And the City of Calgary maintains over 850km of regional pathways for you to exercise on!

Learn to Downhill Ski and Snowboard

EDMONTON:

1. Edmonton Ski Club

  • Located near the downtown core, with great access
  • $10 lift tickets from February 1-March 31st, 2018!
  • Rentals available

2. Snow Valley

Check out this Travel Alberta video at Snow Valley. Here’s how you can learn to ski:

And check out this aerial tour of Snow Valley:

Located just off the Whitemud Freeway in Rainbow Valley. 

Want to try? Connect with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and ski for free through their Wintegration program. (Happens twice annually).

CALGARY:

Winsport

Home of the 1988 Olympics! Learn to ski/snowboard at any age.

Curling
Photo courtesy of Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers

Community Contacts and Resources

The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers offers fantastic support, including their Wintegration  program that helps new residents embrace winter. Monthly activities include:

  • Skating
  • Skiing/snowboarding at Snow Valley (twice per winter)
  • Tobogganing
  • Ice fishing
  • Curling

This program has been operating since 2016. Meet new friends and try something new and fun. For FREE! After the day is done you’ll have new skills. You’ll know where to borrow, rent, or buy gear and what equipment is needed.

“We make sure the programs are free,” says Mischa Taylor, community counsellor at EMCN. “Our goal is to connect people to Canadian culture and to each other, and to provide experiences newcomers can then replicate themselves.”

An example of a Wintegration event: “Last year we went snowshoeing in Victoria Park, then cooked bannock and had a campfire while learning about Indigenous culture.”

Mischa notes that the cold and dark can have ripple effects on people, affecting motivation and sense of belonging. This can lead to obstacles in learning a new language, finding a job or pursuing education. Our connection to the great outdoors is vital. 

Group photo curling
Photo courtesy of Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers

Additional Resources

Enjoying winter can be as simple as playing in the snow. So let’s bundle up and try something new!