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Ottawa Chapter Lead Fraser Blackwell reflects on how the local chapter adapted to the global pandemic and kept volunteers interested and motivated for climate action throughout the past year.

With the COVID situation finally looking up here in Ottawa and across the country, it's a great feeling to be able to visualize a post-pandemic reboot of our local chapter and a return to live events. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the resilience and commitment of our local volunteers, who stepped up to ensure the POW Canada message continued to be expressed over the course of the COVID-challenged winter. The most recent example was a series of three online events that were presented between January and April. It's with great appreciation that I highlight the efforts of local Ottawa volunteers, Juls, Clayton, Andrew and Ali, who were the production team for these events. Julie, Collingwood Lead and Josh, Toronto Lead, also supported these events in planning and promotion through their chapters.

Watch Party

The first event in January was a watch party, featuring Purple Mountains, Awaken, and 12,000 Kilometers.  Special guest Nat Segal, POW Athlete Ambassador, was gracious in sharing her international experience as a professional free skier and film maker, and her perspective on climate change. Ali did an awesome job of hosting the event, introducing the films, and interviewing our guest from Revelstoke. Clayton handled all the technical aspects of promotion and live production, a flawless debut. That expertise carried forward for the next two events.

Women in Skiing

Women In Skiing, was the second event which was held in March. This evening featured a number of short films, including the Lynch sisters' lovely Motherload. A panel discussion featuring Izzy and Zoya, Heidi Nixon, currently a backcountry ski guide, dialled in from Wrangell, Alaska, and Jen Gurecki, CEO of Coalition Snow, the women-owned and operated ski equipment company, dialled in from Reno, Nevada. This event was dually hosted by Ali and Juls. Another great evening of discussion highlighting the experience of women in the mountains, the industry, and ski culture. Ali and Juls did a super job drawing out the stories of this panel of exceptional women who shared their experiences with generosity, honesty and humour. 

Sustainability in the Ski and Snowboard Industry

The final event was themed Sustainability in the Ski and Snowboard Industry. Andrew drew upon his own professional background in business sustainability as the inspiration for this event. Again, the evening consisted of a few short films and a panel discussion of leaders within the industry. The panel included Mike Douglas, POW Canada Chair and Salomon rep, Jen Swain, head of sustainability at Burton SnowBoards, and Forian Pullerel, head of sustainability at the France-based Picture ski apparel company. Andrew's expertise and passion for the issue was front and centre as he moderated the discussion with this panel of industry experts. Personally, I was challenged by this event, because I realized my understanding could honestly be described as shallow. By the end of the evening, I had learned a lot. 

Congratulations to the local POW Ottawa production team, Juls, Clayton, Andrew and Ali, and Julie (Collingwood) Josh (Toronto), in pulling these events together. The technical expertise, networking, marketing, and content creation was outstanding. Thanks for the support from the POW Canada leadership: Izzy, Zoya, Mike and Nat for sharing their art and experience. And thanks to Heidi, Jen and Florian for sharing their unique perspectives.

- Fraser, POW Ottawa Chapter Lead

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