2020 Year In Review

Posted on: December 29th, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

OUR MISSION: Our mission is to turn passionate outdoor people into effective climate advocates. Protect Our Winters Canada is a passionate community of enthusiasts, professional athletes and industry brands uniting the outdoor community to address climate change. We believe our love of adventure in nature demands our participation in the fight to save and protect it. 

OUR VISION: For our communities and outdoor playgrounds to be healthy, safe, and resilient to a changing climate, we envision a future where we’ve transformed our economy and energy systems and cut our carbon emissions in-line with science-based targets the world agreed to in the Paris Climate Agreement.

GROWTH & CAPACITY BUILDING: Despite the social gathering restrictions (limiting events and activations) as well as financial hardships presented in 2020, we increased our membership (32%), social media audience (%27), volunteer base (34%), support from individual donors (48%) and size of our partner network (+7) which will ultimately supercharge our work in 2021. 

POLICY ADVOCACY: In collaboration with our partners at Pembina Institute (Canada’s leading climate policy think-tank), we advocated for a Green & Just Recovery through our #NewPath campaign which elevated Pembina’s Green Stimulus Report. Over the course of 4 days, POW members sent over 11,000 emails to elected officials tasked with creating Canada’s post COVID stimulus plan. This massive effort resulted in POW Canada’s executive director being invited to participate in the Federal Government’s Roundtable for a Green Recovery which informed the governments recovery strategy and ultimately shaped their new net-zero framework. Most importantly, it pushed POW Canada’s mission and vision front and centre with national policy makers which created channels and relationships for further advocacy.

CAMPAIGNS: We had three major climate policy wins in 2020 as a result of the development and execution of the following campaigns: #RejectTeck, #NewPath and #DeclineTheMine. All campaigns achieved their desired outcome, but the success of our #NewPath campaign (advocating for a green recovery) gained national attention and resulted in POW Canada being invited to participate in the Federal Government’s Roundtable for a Green Recovery. Ultimately 5 of our 6 policy asks were incorporated into the government’s strategy.

#REJECTTECK OVERVIEW: POW Canada was part of a strategic coalition of NGOs uniting to block Teck Resources proposed the Frontier Mine, which would have been the largest tar sands project in the world. Luckily 31,928 Canadians engaged in climate ac it tion by signing petitions including 4341 POW Canada members (engagement rate of 40%) who sent emails to politicians eventually leading to the abandonment of this project. Each email stopped 1382 tons of CO 2 per year from going into the atmosphere which is equivalent to stopping the emissions of an average Canadian for their entire lifetime of 82 years.

#DECLINETHEMINE OVERVIEW: Coalspur’s Vista Mine, was planning for a massive expansion that would have put Canada well out of reach of the Paris Climate Agreement. Coalspur was using evasive tactics to avoid an environmental assessment which was called out by our ally Ecojustice. POW stepped in and built a social advocacy campaign resulting in 4318 engaged POW Canada members (engagement rate of 40%) writing letters/emails to the Alberta and Canadian governments demanding Coalspur Vista Mines face an environmental assessment which was ultimately mandated.  Each one of POW Canada member letters helped ensure 7,642 tons of CO 2 remain in the ground. That is equivalent to a full Boeing 747 flying 17 round trip transatlantic flights.

#PRESEASONSTOKE OVERVIEW: 2021 was a heavy year in many respects and our #preseasonstoke campaign was designed to give outdoor enthusiasts something positive to focus on and engage with. In October, enthusiasts were asked to put on their seasonal best including their gear (from helmets to boots/skis), head outside and capture their excitement with a video or photo. The content was then shared on Instagram and participants then challenged friends to do the same. We had 421 entries with a hashtag reach of over 2.8 million .  Stay tuned for another addition of #preseasonstoke in fall 2021.

RESEARCH: In October we released Losing Our Cool: The Future of Snowsports in a Warmer World which was an extensive research project led by POW Canada researchers Natalie Knowles and Brooklyn Rushton in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change at the University of Waterloo.  The report looked back at the conditions experienced in the 1960’s when Nancy Greene won her gold medal and contrasted them to 2010 when POW ambassador Ashleigh McIvor won her gold medal during the Vancouver Olympic Games.. Using the latest in climate modelling technology the report predicts how snowsports across Canada will be impacted by 2050 and 2080 on our current path. Psssst……..it’s not good. 

REGIONAL CHAPTERS: Thanks to the hard work of Izzy Lynch and engagement organizing guru Matt Price, 2020 was also a year to solidify our framework and strategy for our regional chapter program. We now have 11 chapters across Canada, led by trained and committed volunteers using the principles of engagement organizing. These grassroots chapters are trained, resourced and ready to unleash climate campaigns locally/regionally. On January 4, Emilie Grenier will join the POW Canada team as Community Engagement Coordinator to lead our grassroots chapter strategy and supercharge them for effective organizing around campaigns and events. 

HOT PLANET COOL ATHLETES: COVID provided the opportunity to re-deploy Hot Planet Cool Athletes in a digitized format for widespread reach and engagement. Specifically we created 4 new elements in our HPCA Toolkit in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change at the University of Waterloo: 

#1. New interactive website 

#2. Plug and play video presentation with option for virtual athlete host 

#3. New Illuminate video game 

#4. The Climate Educator’s Resource Portal (first of its kind in Canada) with searchable, curriculum based material to aid in climate education.     

PROGRAMS: Growing our membership base continues to be a priority for POW Canada. To support this objective we created two new programs: Resort Program and Retailer Program. The resort program is best described as a creative marketing opportunity for resorts to see how far they can push POW’s message for climate action with members and guests. Several of Canada’s largest resorts have joined as founding members (Mont Tremblant and Blue Mountain) and interest is strong from across the country. Knowing everyone who steps into an outdoor retailer is a potential climate advocate, the Retail Program introduces POW Canada’s mission and vision through instore signage and displays with a call to action to join the movement. 

TRAINING & EDUCATION: There were a lot of firsts in 2020 and creating a virtual training and leadership summit for our athletes and partners was one of them. Although it’s hard to replicate the impact, experience and knowledge sharing of a 3 day, 2 night in-person retreat, the virtual session provided other unique opportunities.  With the virtual format, not only was the need to travel eliminated but participants were able to join for specific sessions over the day based on what their schedule permitted, resulting in over 70 people participating throughout the day. Sessions included: the POWer of Social Movements with Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes, Unravelling Your Unconscious Bias with DEI consultant Amil Reddy and Passion Into Purpose with POW Board Chair Mike Douglas.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION: POW Canada’s mission is to unite and organize the outdoor community to take action against climate change. When we say the outdoor community, we mean mobilizing EVERYONE who appreciates and enjoys the outdoors regardless of gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, neurodiversity, disability, status, citizenship, or any other aspect which makes them unique. To date, our story has lacked representation of many communities. We recognize that diversity and equity in the outdoor space are integral to solving climate change. The more opportunities that are available for participation in the outdoors for ALL, the more chances we have at protecting it. We have created a robust and practical DEI Action Plan with targets that will lead to meaningful change. You can find our full DEI Action Plan at www.protectourwinters.ca/everyone

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