Canadian HC concludes visits to winter sports festivals in Chitral, GB

The Nation  |  Jan 31, 2023

 Canadian HC concludes visits to winter sports festivals in Chitral, GB

The Canadian High Commissioner in Pakistan, Leslie Scanlon, along with ice-hockey enthusiasts from the Canadian High Commission, participated in five winter festivals organised by rural mountainous communities in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan in January 2023.

The High Commissioner’s daughter, who is an ice-hockey coach, also participated in the sports festivals, said a press release issued by the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad on Tuesday.

In her remarks, Canadian High Commissioner stated that the broader purpose of the winter sports festivals was the “economic and physical well-being of the communities of Gilgit-Baltistan,” as harsh winters halt the physical and economic activities in these regions. Therefore, AKRSP, with its partners, provides an opportunity to activate physical and economic activities, she added.

The High Commissioner Leslie Scanlon and her team participated in Climate Walk with the local youth, like the Booni Environment Academy, to shed light on the devastating impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss in the region, and to discuss solutions for embedding climate action in recovery actions to build back better – to create economies and communities that are more sustainable, resilient, and equitable.

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High Commissioner Leslie Scanlon explaining her country’s policy on women said, “Canada has a Feminist International Assistance Policy, which underscores our belief that by including women and girls in everything from politics to the economy, and in sports, only then will communities thrive both in Canada and around the world. We all have a role to play in breaking down barriers and ensuring that women, girls, and the differently abled have every opportunity to succeed in life.

Watching the girls’ hockey games and being able to play with all these amazing female athletes has been a highlight for us. We applaud these communities’ efforts to include everyone.”

The High Commissioner and her team travelled for 16 days to visit communities, where they coached youth on ice-hockey skills, attended a variety of festival events, and engaged with local leaders. The programme brought together 40 male and female ice hockey teams and provided opportunities to more than 100 rural women entrepreneurs to display their products at the Women Business Expos held on the sidelines of Winter Sports Festivals.

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It is pertinent to mention here that this was the fourth year Canadians have actively participated in Winter Festivals intending to support the empowerment of women and girls through sports; encouraging environmental protection and responsible eco-tourism while discussing the challenging impacts of climate change; and supporting community-driven economic development, especially for women.

Through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, Canada partnered with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) for supporting communities who demonstrated a commitment to organise inclusive winter festivals, raising discussions around climate-change adaptation and environmental protection and supporting female entrepreneurs.

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