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Cold City, Warm Hearts back at FortWhyte Alive for fifth year


Kids who are navigating their first Manitoba winter once again got the chance to learn how to embrace the season.

Rossbrook House teamed up with Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) for the fifth annual Cold City, Warm Hearts.

On Wednesday night, about 140 school-aged participants of both organizations headed to FortWhyte Alive to try their hands at a slew of quintessentially winter activities like snowshoeing, tobogganing, tug-of-wars and a bannock bake on an open fire.

The event is the brainchild of past Rossbrook House board president Brenda Hasiuk, thought up during a particularly frosty February in 2017. The neighbourhood drop-in centre had just finished its own winter games, which were a huge hit amongst the kids.

“I also knew that right down the street was IRCOM,” she recalled in an interview with CTV Morning Live Winnipeg.

“Some of those kids were here for their first time, and they don’t even know what snow looked like. They didn’t know how to enjoy a Manitoba winter, so I thought, ‘How can we bring these neighbours together?”

Thus Cold City, Warm Hearts was born as a way to pair winter-savvy Rossbrook House kids with new Canadians who might not know a cross-country ski from an ice skate.

FortWhyte Alive came on board to play host to the winter initiation, offering up its staff and volunteers to show kids the icy ropes.

Barret Miller, FortWhyte Alive’s group and corporate program manager, has worked the event many times since its conception.

Every year, he looks forward to seeing new Canadians try something new.

“It's always neat to see somebody put on snowshoes for the first time. It looks so ungainly and awkward, but it turns out that you are more graceful in the snow,” he said.

“Whether it's your first time down or your first time of the night, a good toboggan slide is just classic Canadian winter, so the thrill never really leaves, so lots of smiles and lots of laughter.”

While the night may feel a bit less frigid five years in, Hasiuk is happy the core of the event is intact.

“It’s such a fun and positive event, to see these smiling faces all coming together on a winter night,” Hasiuk said. “This year, it’s not quite so cold, but it still feels like the news is pretty heavy these days, so we’ll take a warm night.”

- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagacé Top Stories

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