In a joint venture, the Greater Edmonton Racing Canoe and Kayak Club and the St Albert Canoe and Kayak Club invited a large group of Syrian Refugees to their Kirk Lake paddling facility which borders the two Cities.
The purpose of this initiative was for several reasons. We wanted to welcome the refugees to the Greater Edmonton area with some fun and a chance to show Canadian culture. Paddling and outdoor activities in Canada have a deep history and we wanted them to have an opportunity to try paddling in a safe and informative environment.
Understanding that many of them fled by boat from Syria and have a fear of water from that experience, we also wanted to show them how safe and fun canoeing and kayaking can be when done in a CKC club environment.
Our Northern Alberta Clubs have programs that provide opportunities for under represented groups, such as aboriginals, persons with disabilities, at risk youths, etc, so felt that this venture was another opportunity to do some community good.
We followed up the paddling with a picnic and get together. We got the sense from the over 60 participants that they really enjoyed the experience. We enjoyed having them come out as well.
Said Rick Hill – Commodore of Greater Edmonton Racing Canoe Kayak Club
It was an amazing day in which we have shared the love of canoe kayak sport with Syrian refugees and all Canadians. The event will mark the first time in history a canoe kayak club has offered paddling activities for new comers to Canada. Sharing the love of paddling with others is just such a part of everything Canada stands for.
The exposure the event has got from the media was totally unexpected. Television and media are key ingredient for growing our sport. An event like this will definitely enlarge the number of our audience to engage more Canadians in the sport, but also to amplify the profile of paddling sport that is so deeply steeped in Canadian heritage.
Said Zak Mahmoud - Head Coach of Greater Edmonton Racing Canoe Kayak Club