If you’ve driven along Grosvenor Avenue lately you may have noticed something unusual outside River Heights Middle School. It seems a rash of quinzees sprung up overnight, along with a few snow sculptures.
A quinzee is an Athabaskan term for a snow house. A temporary shelter similar to an igloo except built from snow not ice.
There’s more than a dozen of them in the schoolyard. They were built by a team of 22 students from the school’s Outdoor Ed and French Immersion programs.
Teacher James Swan led the efforts which differed from the more usual outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing or snow shoeing.
French Immersion educator Chantel Phaneuf told me that it was a way to celebrate our city’s Festival du Voyageur. She brought in a local artist, Christelle Lanthier who is the co-ordinator of snow sculpting for Le Festival to work with the students and give them guidance on working with this medium.
Too bad she couldn’t have worked with me, the last snowman I built was so ugly that the neighbourhood kids kept knocking its head off.
The Festival and the quinzees do give you pause for thought however on the history of our country. Of days gone by when hunting and trapping were a means of survival. Men out on the trapline could be caught in a winter storm without warning and a hastily constructed quinzee could be the difference between life and death.
Le Festival may be over for another year but our quinzees could be around until it finally warms up.
Meanwhile down the street, Robert H Smith School will be hosting their ninth Community Breakfast at the school this Friday, Mar 4. It runs from 6:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. and the $5 admission goes towards a charity of the students’ choosing.
This year, it is the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation who work to assist children with disabilities to experience the more usual things in life that most of us take for granted. Like riding a bike, dancing or just holding a conversation with the aid of a speech enhancing device.
The breakfast always attracts a big crowd; I believe there were more than a thousand last year. Principal Tom Rossi always gets celebrity guests, from radio personalities, the mayor, police chief, politicians and hockey and football stars.
KISS 103 with Joe Aeillo will be there along with Rachelle Legace from CTV and Tracy Koga from Shaw. Rumour has it that the dark knight himself, Batman may make an appearance.
There’ll be a silent auction with a chance to win a myriad of prizes including two tickets to any Westjet destination. And they have some far flung worldwide destinations these days.
Events in the past have raised more than $20,000 for the selected charity.
Be sure to get there early – it’s an event not to be missed.