‘Enjoy the freedom’: program aims to help new Canadians learn how to skate

New Canadians living in Winnipeg are getting a chance to learn a winter tradition.

For the past several weeks, the West End Biz has been taking over the outdoor rink in Central Park, hosting the Learn to Skate program for newcomers. Those who arrive are provided skates, helmets and are given guidance from instructors.

“Today, we actually had an optional skate due to how cold it was. We weren’t anticipating to see a lot of folks out just due to the cold weather,” said Aurora Debreuil, communications and marketing coordinator with West End Biz. “We’re happy a few folks decided to try it out, even though it’s very cold. They want to keep working at it and try and get better. It’s just great to see.”

Femi Fadahunsi was among those skating in Central Park. He said he signed up for the program because he wanted to embrace the winter.

“The first few lessons were off,” he said. “I ended up on my butt quite a number of times. But the more I do it, the easier it gets.”

Fadahunsi said he has always found skating to be a cool activity.

“I enjoy the freedom,” he said. “You have all the space to just glide around and there’s no friction getting in the way. And I also like how it teaches you how you can fall and fall on ice and just get back up.”

Debreuil said the program also helps connect people in the community.

“Skating is such a part of our culture here in Winnipeg, and having the amazing skiing trail on the river and all the different outdoor skating rinks,” she said. “What we really heard from a lot of participants is how nice it is to learn how to skate and then be able to go skating with their kids or their kids are wanting to learn and they want to be able to help teach them.”

The program runs every Friday for seven weeks.

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