New initiative aims to root out sexism and racism from the professional avalanche industry
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fairly difficult
A recent report and survey focussed on Canada's avalanche professionals, a category that includes winter mountain guides, has identified some significant issues related to racism and sexism.
Commissioned by the industries largest players—the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) and the Canadian Ski Guides Association(CSGA)—the 2019 report focused on inclusion, gender discrimination and harassment and mental health in the avalanche professional community.

It found workplaces are sometimes challenging and unwelcoming for female staff and clients, people who identify as non-heteronormative, and for people of colour.

The industry is made up of primarily white participants and is male dominated, with unofficial averages putting the industry at about 15 to 20 per cent women.

Of the women who do work in the industry, many have faced issues related to sexism.

46 per cent of females reported experiencing gender discrimination, with the most significant factor being a perception that females are "less competent" than males.

Moreover, 27 per cent of female respondents reported experiencing sexual harassment. Of that 27 per cent involved inappropriate touching, and 60 per cent was initiated by peers or supervisors.

Visible minorities working in the industry also reported high rates of mental heatlh challenges, with one in four reporting to have experienced suicide attempt or thought.

Peter Tucker, executive director of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, said the organization is in the process of creating a more inclusive workspace and doing its best to address the issues identified in the report, including unconscious bias.

"The ACMG is pretty much white, straight and male," he said.

Over the years, society has put up barriers "consciously or unconsciously" that have discouraged minorities from pursuing careers within the outdoor industry, he said.

"The elimination of those barriers is the way ahead for our society," said Tucker. "To just stand on the sidelines and go, 'yeah, yeah, you know, you all go ahead and do that,' that doesn't cut it."

So far, the ACMG has organized sessions on…
Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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