We can’t transform lives alone. That’s why our partnerships with like-minded, inspiring organizations are so important. This year, we’re excited to receive $12,000 funding from MEC for our Work 2 Live program, as well as a donation of outdoor clothing to keep our participants warm and dry.

Last year, MEC donated $4.65 million to non-profits and community organizations across Canada to help people get outside, and ensure responsible recreation. We caught up with Wade Janzen, Regional Sustainability and Community Investment Coordinator at MEC, to find out more about their work and why they chose to support Zero Ceiling.

It’s cold up here: MEC provided winter boots so our Work 2 Live crew could keep dry and warm this winter

MEC is all about supporting people to get outside and active,” Wade told us. “How ever people choose to get outdoors, we want to make it fun and exciting for them.”

Like Zero Ceiling, MEC want to help more diverse groups of people get outside. The benefits of outdoor activity are well documented. But there are still many people – and groups – who don’t get the chance to feel those benefits. We are so lucky to have the beautiful Coast Mountains on our doorstep: many people don’t have that opportunity.

“We all need the sense of belonging that nature provides.”

That’s why MEC started organizing their Outdoor Nation Summits – with one coming up in Vancouver on 10-12th August. As Wade explained, “Lots of young people in cities want to get outdoors, but struggle to find the time or resources to do so. The Outdoor Nation creates opportunities for young people with great ideas to make connections. It’s time for the outdoor industry to meaningfully engage with the issues of representation and inclusion. We all need the sense of belonging that nature provides.

A young Indigenous woman stands on a trail looking out over a mountain range and alpine lake, as part of the Work 2 Live program funded by MEC

Our Work 2 Live participants understand the value of the outdoors for their physical and mental health

We’re stoked to be supported by such a forward-thinking, generous organization. And even better, they’re local, with the headquarters just down the road in Vancouver. We asked Wade why they chose to support Zero Ceiling with a grant of $12,000:

Zero Ceiling takes a really holistic approach. Transformative programs consider whole individuals and everything that contributes to a rich and full life. It’s not a simple formula. Outdoor programs talk about new skills, gear and fun activities but they don’t often consider that individuals cannot be successful without rock-solid mentorship, a job on the resume and a truly supportive community.”

MEC: Making the outdoor industry more inclusive

That’s certainly true. Wade also hit on another important aspect of what we do: contributing to the outdoor tourism industry here in Whistler, and doing our bit to make it more accessible and inclusive.

The Work 2 Live program has the potential to transform the outdoor industry from the inside out. The participants bring skills that are needed, in an industry that has high barriers to entry.

The Work 2 Live crew bring their personal histories to their identities as outdoor adventurers. There’s a huge opportunity for the industry to learn from new perspectives. People who have experienced inequality are best qualified to identify potential solutions and create change.”

A person tightens the brakes on a mountain bike with a screwdriver. They work in a bike shop, thanks to funding from MEC.

It’s not all play: Our Work 2 Live crew work hard in the outdoor industry in Whistler

The funding from MEC will allow us to continue to provide outstanding outdoor adventures for our Work 2 Live crew. It will also support them to find success at work and gain the qualifications they need to build a career for themselves, whatever their interests. Some of our Work 2 Live graduates are even looking forward to joining them at the MEC Outdoor Nation in August! We’re so grateful for their support, and everything they do for the outdoor community.