Be a Snow Angel: A Winter Guide for Newcomers in Calgary and Safety Tips for Winter Warriors!

January 17, 2024 | Newcomer Information, Our blog

In collaboration with the Calgary Immigration Partnership (CLIP) and the Calgary Public Library, Gateway organized an event at the Central Public Library on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in commemoration of this year’s World Refugee Day.

The event aimed to celebrate the strength and courage of refugees who had been forced to flee their home countries due to conflict or persecution.

During the event, Sarah Meilleur, the CEO of Calgary Public Library, welcomed the audience, highlighting that the library is often one of the first destinations for immigrants and refugees upon their arrival. This is because the library provides them with free services, including a membership card, access to Wi-Fi, computers, and printing facilities. Sarah commended the immigrant-serving agencies for their collaborative efforts in supporting refugees on their settlement journeys.

The Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP) coordinator, Dejana Knih, read the opening remarks and address from the Mayor of Calgary, Mayor Gondek. In her speech, Mayor Gondek thanked refugees who have made Calgary their new home for their resilience and contributions to the city.

After the mayor’s address, there was a film screening of “Struggling to Adapt: One Syrian Refugee Family’s Story” by CBC The National. The film showcased the settlement journey of a Syrian family of nine, including seven children and their parents, who had fled Syria due to conflict and arrived in Lethbridge, Alberta as refugees. The audience got a glimpse of the challenges the family faced, how they slowly adjusted to their new life in Canada, and their journey of learning English to improve their job prospects.

There was a moment of reflection for the audience to absorb the story of this family, which represented the experience of many refugees.

Following the screening, a panel discussion with subject matter experts from local support organizations was held. The panel included Jill Edgington Kirby from the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS), Elliot Dewhirst from the End of the Rainbow Foundation, Besrat Tesfamariam from Immigrant Services Calgary/Gateway, and Margaret Yu from Momentum. Dejana Knih, the CLIP Coordinator, moderated the panel discussion.

The panelists discussed the challenges faced by refugees, such as employers requiring Canadian work experience, social issues, and the struggle to afford a decent standard of living. They also offered suggestions on how to improve the lives of refugees, including supporting local refugee businesses, providing a non-judgmental environment, showing empathy, and volunteering to help them integrate into the Canadian system.

Partners from 10 immigrant-serving agencies had booths at the event to showcase free resources and programs that are available for refugees.


Winter in Calgary can be enchanting, but it also brings challenges, especially when it comes to snow. As a newcomer, understanding local practices like snow removal is essential for harmonious community living.

Understanding the Snow & Ice Removal Bylaw:

Newcomers, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with Calgary’s Snow & Ice Removal Bylaw. Failing to comply with the bylaw can result in fees and fines. Stay informed to avoid any unintended consequences.

Snow Shovelling Safety Tips:

Snow shovelling can be a winter workout, but it’s essential to approach it with proper preparation and caution. Here are some key tips to ensure you shovel safely:

Before You Shovel:

      • Assess Your Health: If you’ve had a heart attack, have heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or if you’re a smoker, it’s advisable to reconsider shovelling. Consider hiring help if needed.
      • Timing Matters: Shovel at least 1–2 hours after eating, avoiding caffeine and nicotine.
      • Warm-Up Routine: Prior to shovelling, warm up your body with a few minutes of walking or marching in place.

While Shovelling:

      • Start Slow: Begin at a slow pace and take regular breaks (shovel for 5–7 minutes, then rest for 2–3 minutes).
      • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
      • Snow Conditions: Shovel early and often. New snow is lighter than heavily packed or partially melted snow.
      • Take Breaks: Frequent breaks are crucial to avoid overexertion.

Tools of the Trade:

      • Choose the Right Shovel: Opt for a sturdy yet lightweight shovel with an ergonomic design. A small plastic blade is often better than a large metal one.
      • Clothing Matters: Wear multiple layers, cover exposed skin, use a hat, scarf, mittens, and boots with non-skid soles.

Shovelling Technique:

      • Push, Don’t Lift: Push snow rather than lifting it.
      • Lift Safely: If lifting is necessary, lift properly by standing with feet hip-width apart, holding the shovel close to your body, and bending from your knees.
      • Increase Leverage: Space hands apart on the shovel’s handle to increase leverage.
      • Mind Your Back: Tighten your stomach muscles while lifting, and avoid twisting. Walk to dump snow instead of throwing it.

What is the Snow Angels Campaign?

Calgary’s Snow Angels campaign, now in its nineteenth year, is a heartwarming initiative that celebrates residents who lend a helping hand in clearing snow for those in need. This includes older adults, individuals with limited mobility, or anyone requiring assistance with driveways and sidewalks.

To learn more about recognizing a snow angel:

Let’s make this winter a season of unity and support in our community. Be a Snow Angel and contribute to the warmth that makes Calgary a welcoming home.

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