Healthy Living in the North

IMAGINE grant: Masset Rollergirls

When you picture Masset, BC, you might imagine a small, seaside community located in some of BC’s most untamed and beautiful coastline. Can you feel the sun peeking through the clouds, and the wind whipping up that salty ocean air? Well, that may be most people’s vision, but thanks to Laura Bishop and her team, there’s a wild, wheelin’ world below the surface of the Haida Gwaii village!

Instructor and students roller skating

Vancouver instructor Chris Neima teaching the fundamentals!

Masset is home to the Masset Rollergirls (MRG), who applied for and were awarded one of Northern Health’s IMAGINE grant funding packages this past year. With the funding, the MRG hosted an Open Skate Program, bringing in Vancouver instructor Chris Neima to teach the fundamentals of rollerdance in two parts; Introduction to Roller Dance and Park Skating. The program paired active living with her team’s passion for rollerdance.

In addition to the four roller dance sessions held in Masset, the MRG amplified their reach by including two sessions in Skidegate and Queen Charlotte, expanding the sport on Haida Gwaii and opening up this fitness opportunity to over 30 youth and adult participants.

To truly appreciate the gravity of this program, one has to understand the challenges that Masset faces. The climate doesn’t allow for an outdoor ice rink, which means the opportunity to ice skate is limited to indoor facilities, which are both costly and require more maintenance. Masset’s remoteness also limits its access to qualified instructors, which is why bringing instructor Chris out was even more special!

Children rollerskating outside

Roller dance gives all kinds of people a chance to grow and improve together!

Roller skating has awesome health benefits. It utilizes multiple large and small muscle groups, reinforces balance and coordination, and can be pursued as either an individual or group fitness activity. Plus, and maybe most importantly, it gives all kinds of people a chance to grow and improve together. People of all shapes, sizes, and abilities participated in this weekend full of inclusion, fun, recreation, physical activity, and learning in a non-competitive setting.

Jam Skating Workshops poster

Lace up and get dancing!

This project didn’t only bring skaters together, the Open Skate gave many community partners a chance to put their heads together as well. The Village of Masset provided the rink space free of charge in the interest of employing the township’s pre-existing infrastructure and giving new life to its community buildings. Other project contributors included George M. Dawson High School, Haida Gwaii Society for Community Peace, Haida Gwaii Regional Recreation Commission, the Village of Queen Charlotte, and the Skidegate Volunteer Fire Department.

With all this forward momentum, it’s very exciting to think about what plans the Masset Rollergirls have for the future. There’s no doubt with the partnerships and people involved, Masset rollerdance will continue to produce more skaters and dancers. Now that’s something to roll with!

IMAGINE Community Grants provide funding to community organizations, service agencies, First Nations bands and organizations, schools, municipalities, regional districts, not-for-profits, and other partners with projects that make northern communities healthier. We look for applicants that will support our efforts to prevent chronic disease and injury, and improve overall well-being in our communities. 

Robbie Pozer About Robbie Pozer

Robbie is a Communications Advisor for Population and Public Health at Northern Health. A UNBC grad, Robbie was thrilled to be offered an opportunity to work with NH in the summer of 2017 and help promote health in his home region. Although he MUST apply a thick layer of sunscreen to his brittle, ginger skin, he can almost always be found outside playing sports, mountain biking, or getting nice and lost in beautiful BC.
(NH Blog Admin)