Over 40 excited women gathered at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) this Sunday to celebrate International Women’s Day with the second annual Get the Girls Out event, hosted by SheJumps.
Founded in 2007, SheJumps is a non-profit organization that seeks to encourage women and girls to reach their potential by building confidence through outdoor education. Regardless of previous experience, their low cost events create communities of empowered females that support each other as they step outside of comfort zones. The organization hosts exciting events throughout Canada and the United States, pertaining to a variety of sports including sailing, wilderness first aid, surfing, shredding, and rock climbing.
“SheJumps is a non-profit organization dedicated to getting more women and girls outside. Our big picture vision is to create a world without fear for women and girls, and to provide the experiences in the outdoors that then translate to empowerment in everyday life,” said SheJumps executive director and co-founder, Claire Smallwood.
The fun began bright and early, as women of all ages came together for first tracks at FAR, slicing through untouched powder. After building up an appetite, the ladies headed to an International Women’s Day Breakfast at Cirque. Mealtime was led by Smallwood alongside the B.C. regional coordinator for SheJumps, Sam Usher. While participants indulged in a delicious buffet, Smallwood delivered a heartfelt speech about the organization and her vision to empower and represent women in sport.
After breakfast, the excitement moved back outdoors. In an effort to make the occasion as affordable as possible, the attendees, some of which came from as far as Calgary and Whitefish, received discounted lift tickets. Once the ladies strapped into their skis and boards, everyone headed out for a free mountain tour. The event was ultimately open to becoming whatever attendees wanted, whether it was to rip the park, take a lesson, or stick to groomers. Regardless of how the women chose to spend the day, the event clearly demonstrated the sheer power of female camaraderie and power, both on and off the slopes.
While on the hill, the ladies had the opportunity to attend an avalanche education session taught by female FAR ski patrollers, where they learned the basics of avalanche safety in the backcountry. The fun then culminated with a lively après at Cirque, full of lipsmacking food and half price cocktails.
Also scattered throughout the day were various lighthearted events, including a ski carrying contest, a fruit by the foot eating competition, and a team photo challenge. The event’s most talked about challenge was the golden girafficorn safari, where the women had to locate girafficorns, the organizations mythical mascot, hidden throughout the resort.
“These activities offer ways that you can participate in this event even if you don’t have the time to ski with everyone all day. At the end of the day what we really want is to make sure that women and girls are taking the time to celebrate themselves and to celebrate each other,” said Smallwood.
The idea of creating new and empowering narratives for women runs at the core of what SheJumps seeks to achieve through events such as Get the Girls Out. They want to demolish myths that make women feel weak, and replace them with messages that reiterate the strength and power of females. According to Smallwood, women are only as strong as they believe they can be, and in knowing so, she seeks to enable young women to find role models and discover their strength through SheJumps and the community it forms.
“The theme for this year’s international women’s day celebration is each for equal. It shows that we all have a part to play in amplifying each other’s narratives and the value that we play in the world. It’s really important for women to get together and feel supported and encouraged. It’s really important to make sure you’re strengthening every part of your community. We’re helping people establish new narratives about themselves based off the idea ‘if she can do it so can I’,” said Smallwood.
SheJump’s next local event is a cross country ski and raclette dinner on March 20 at Birch Meadows, where the organization will be partnering with the Fernie Women’s Resource Center for a joint fundraiser. Afterwards, on March 23, they will be hosting their second annual Junior Ski Patrol event, where girls as young as eight years old are encouraged to shadow female ski patrollers throughout the day in an effort to open male-dominated career paths to young women.
“Fernie just needs something like this. It’s new here, we have localized women’s events but nothing as big as SheJumps. It’s a really important piece to getting women together and supporting each other in a small community,” said Usher.