National Health and Fitness Day with a Cross-Country Ski Event on Parliament Hill
OTTAWA—Parliament Hill was transformed into a cross-country ski venue for Federal Legislators Wednesday morning to promote National Health and Fitness Day (scheduled for June 4th in 2016) and to highlight the upcoming historic month of Nordic festivities in Canada.
Led by Senator Nancy Greene Raine, MPs Anthony Housefather, Robert Kitchen and Cheryl Hardcastle, a cadre of Ottawa youth, Olympians/Paralympians and officials from Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada came together for a friendly nordic ski on the famed grounds in downtown Ottawa.
With the goal to encourage a more active and healthy Canada, the unique event was held in partnership with Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada, Nakkertok Nordic and XC Ski Fast – a program designed to promote the thrill of cross-country skiing to Grades 6-8 students in the National Capital Region. Wednesday’s event on The Hill demonstrated the potential for setting tracks in school yards across Canada and making cross country skiing part of the school curriculum.
“Cross country skiing is a great way to keep in shape” said Robert Kitchen, MP for Souris-Moose Mountain. “Many Canadians take personal responsibility for their health by getting 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. I find cross-country skiing to be a great outdoor workout, and Moose Mountain Park has some excellent terrain.”
Kitchen was one of a handful of MP’s who encouraged Canadians to embrace winter by getting active during the unique ski event.
“Cross-country skiing is an excellent way to get out and enjoy Canadian winters,” said Anthony Housefather, MP for Mount Royal. “I like to participate in a variety of forms of physical activity so I benefit from cross training. Cross-country skiing is great for balance and stamina while building strength in new muscles.”
“Cross-country skiing is a great, low cost and environmentally-friendly sport that young families and mature active people can enjoy. My favourite place to cross-country ski with my family is Lakewood Park and along Pike Creek,” added MP for Windsor – Tecumseh, Cheryl Hardcastle.
Senator Nancy Greene Raine encouraged all Canadians to follow Canada’s political leaders’ path to a healthier lifestyle while kicking off the event on Parliament Hill.
“These legislators are great role models for all Canadians to keep physically active. My dream is that we could have cross country tracks like this one on school playing fields across Canada. We need to do everything possible to get kids outside being active in the fresh air. We ask all MPs and Senators to help us spread the idea. Let’s do it!”
The event was held days before Ottawa takes centre stage in international cross-country ski circles with the annual Gatineau Loppet set for February 26, followed by the first stage of the inaugural eight-race Ski Tour Canada, March 1-12. This Tour includes World Cup races with 174 athletes in Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec City, and Canmore, Alta.
“This the largest nordic ski event ever to come to North America. We hope having our nation’s top athletes race at home will inspire all Canadians – from our leaders on Parliament Hill to students in school playgrounds – to get outside, embrace winter, and ultimately try cross-country skiing,” said Pierre Lafontaine, chief executive officer, Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada. “One of our core responsibilities as a national sport organization is to pull kids away from video games and television sets, and inspire them to take on an active lifestyle with friends and family while embracing winter. We hope events like today on the hill, our ski at school programs, and the Ski Tour Canada will help us achieve these goals and contribute to making Canada the fittest nation on earth.”