Over the past years, “hygge” (a Danish term for incorporating coziness and wellbeing into everyday life) has been touted as the antidote for Canada’s long, dreary winters. Staying warm and cozy indoors may have worked for some in the past, but this year we need to find safe ways to get outside in winter. Our cities’ parks and green spaces will be essential to our physical and mental health this winter.
Looking to Indigenous communities in Canada who have thrived on these lands for tens of thousands of years provides a useful framework for how we should approach winter this year.
In a recent Toronto Star article, Alex Wilson, a professor and director of the University of Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal Research Education Centre and a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation recommends:
“focusing on the rhythms and patterns of nature — and drawing meaning from them — is just one of the simple things Indigenous scholars suggest people can do to help get through the long, dark days of winter and isolation during this pandemic.”
In an effort to truly embrace our nature as a winter nation, we are launching the first TD Park People Winter Grants, supporting 15 community groups in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal to deliver awesome nature-based activities that foster environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship in a safe and winter-friendly way.
A winter event in Montreal in 2019.
Earlier this year, as part of the TD Community Resilience Initiative, a comprehensive program launched through the TD Ready Commitment to address the pandemic’s impact on communities, TD and Park People pivoted the TD Park People Grants to meet the changing needs of communities across Canada.
Now in its third year, TD Park People Grants have provided 293 grants to support over 716 events in city parks. So far in 2020, TD Park People Grants have supported 163 community groups, who hosted over 326 events and programs in Metro Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Greater Toronto Area, National Capital Region (Ottawa-Gatineau), Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax Regional Municipality.
The brilliant virtual or physically-distanced winter events hosted by TD Park People Winter Grant recipients will include:
- Holiday Decorating Party: Gordon Neighbourhood House in Vancouver will host a virtual workshop to create sustainable, upcycled, and wildlife-friendly holiday decorations, followed by a physically-distanced meet-up where folks can decorate trees in the plaza or local parks.
- Winter at Sam Smith Park: Friends of Sam Smith Park in Toronto is hosting a series of environmentally-themed walks in the park, culminating in a day of online workshops and presentations. The online component will consist of a photography workshop and exhibit, winter nature crafts, a winter bird feeder program, and a presentation on winter birds and animals in the park.
- Ice rink and winter olympiad: Comité de la ruelle olympique in Montreal hopes to liven up Olympic Alley this winter by offering a safe area for children to play. The group will create an ice rink (and possibly a slide!) in the center of the lane, as well as connect with local residents to install lights to better animate the space.
A winter event in Montreal in 2019.
We recognize that getting outdoors this winter will take an extra helping of creativity and motivation. Now certainly isn’t the time to shy away from getting playful with your kids in the snow, going on a winter nature walk, or decorating trees in your neighbourhood. Let’s embrace all that Canadian winters and nature has to offer. We hope that you bundle up, spend some time in your local parks and green spaces, and encourage your neighbours to safely do the same!
Be sure to check the TD Park People Grants website and our social media for details on all the great events in your community.
Thanks to our generous supporters