Whitehorse residents paying it forward by shoveling snow for those who can’t

A group of 20 Whitehorse residents are offering to shovel snow for residents who have mobility issues. The group says they’ll do it free of charge just because it’s a way to give back to their community. (Israr Ahmed)

There is a magic in the air when it snows in the Yukon, but when it comes to shoveling it, the magic normally disappears.

Especially for people who may have difficulty pushing the weight of it.

That is why a group of Whitehorse, Yukon residents are offering to shovel driveways, porches, and sidewalks for elders, pregnant people, or residents living with health issues that make the task particularly difficult.

Israr Ahmed, a member of the group, said there are about 20 volunteers ready to do the work, no matter how big the job.

“We just wanted to embark on this journey of serving,” Ahmed told CBC News. “It’s grounded in our Islamic tradition which is to care about your neighbours. We’ve been thinking about it for some time.”

Snow removal felt like a good start, so he posted on social media, calling for volunteers as well as those who need help with shoevlling. He was surprised how many people liked the idea. His post, he said, received over one hundred ‘likes’ which was significantly more than other posts on the platform’s page.

“It was really heartwarming and encouraging for us,” said Ahmed. “From that three, or four people have reached out. They’ve all been scheduling the work with us.”

According to Ahmed all of the shoveling will be done free of charge. Although he does ask for three things in return.

“Whether it’s the yard, the sidewalks, or porch,” he said. “Whatever help they need with respect to snow removal we’ll be out there with shovels and all the tools to help them out.”

“The only thing we’ll be asking for from the people we serve are their prayers, their smiles, and a place in their hearts.”

‘Helps me sleep better at night’

Ahmed moved from India to Whitehorse three years ago.

He works a full time at the Canadian telecommunications company Northwestel, but he and his volunteer group plan to do the shoveling jobs on their days off, or during spare time when not at work.

Ever since he arrived to town, he said, the community has made him feel welcome.

That’s been a motivating force in his snow-shoveling efforts.

“I have received nothing but warmth,” he said. “I have a lot of friends that I have earned over the past three years so this is just a way of saying thank you and it’s one of those things that helps me sleep better at night.”

“You know when you do some things like this, selflessly, just to help people out, you go to bed with a smile on your face. That sense of gratification knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life, that is very satisfactory to me.”

Israr Ahmed moved to Whitehorse, Yukon three years ago from India. He told CBC News his group will shovel porches, sidewalks, and driveways for free until the snow begins to melt. (Israr Ahmed)

Ahmed said the shovelling will begin in January and will go until the snow starts to melt.

“It has started with this snow removal initiative and we hope that it’ll transform and grow stronger into more initiatives as more people hopefully join us,” he said.

Ahmed said he invites those who need help shovelling snow to look him up on Facebook and send him a message through the platform’s direct messaging.

Related stories from around the North :

Canada : Yukon can expect more rain and snow as climate changes, gov’t report says, CBC News

Canada : Whitehorse residents threaten class-action over city’s lack of snow-clearing, CBC News

Finland : ‘Varpu’ storm fells trees and cuts power in south, brings ‘first snow’ to Lapland, Yle News

Sweden : “Gender-equal snow-clearing” to benefit cyclists and pedestrians in Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States : Anchorage adds to record homeless death as major storm drops more than 60 cm of snow, Alaska Public Media

Chris MacIntyre, CBC News

Chris MacIntyre is a CBC reporter in Dawson City, Yukon.

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