By A.P.Crawford, Periodical Editor (ap.crawford@skipatrol.ca)   

The CSP recognized seven new national life members earlier this year. Their work will be highlighted over the next few issues of 5/5 with outlines of their contributions to the CSP.


Jenny Skelton, Life Member No. 90 

By Elizabeth Oldfield, Life Member No. 44, Calgary Zone (oldfield@telusplanet.net) 

The Yukon is known for its northern lights, but perhaps the brightest light is Jenny Skelton, zone president of Watson Lake for the last 37 years.  

The national life members from Mountain Division welcoming Jenny Skelton to the group
(l-r) Jenny Skelton (LM No. 90), Pam FitzGerald (LM No. 73), Dave Harrison (LM No. 45), Elizabeth Oldfield (LM No. 44) and Sandra Williams (LM No. 76). (Photo by Gordon Merz)

Watson Lake is a small, remote community, population around 1,000, located in the Yukon, just over the B.C. border. It is almost inconceivable that such a small, remote community could sustain a ski hill, let alone a ski patrol. Jenny’s exceptional leadership fostered growth of Watson Lake Zone from a very early date. During the formative years of Watson Lake Zone, Jenny not only fulfilled the role of zone president, but also took on the roles of education officer, finance officer, supplies officer, and recruitment and retention. In addition to CSP duties, Jenny manages the ski hill, run entirely by volunteers. She organizes, trains, fundraises, cooks, drafts proposals, grooms, repairs equipment, supervises the staff and ski patrol and finds the time to patrol herself.  

Jenny’s expertise, skills, professionalism and compassionate, supportive personality have sustained Watson Lake as one of the CSP Mountain Division’s most viable zones for more than 35 years. The CSP would not have a presence in Watson Lake if it were not for Jenny. Her resilience in navigating changes in the community, aptitude for designing and applying innovative opportunities and her unflappable commitment to building relationships with ski area management, staff and CSP members has brought stability and growth to the CSP. She brings together and leads an enthusiastic group of patrollers as well as coaching and mentoring volunteers to run the ski hill. Using her strong communication skills, she provides weekly updates on Mount Maichen on CBC radio, promoting the ski hill and the CSP across the Yukon.  

The ski hill runs the school ski program for all grades 4 to 9 school children as part of their physical education program. The children come four times a season to learn and enjoy skiing and boarding. This program is run exclusively by the Watson Lake Zone and has been running for the past 28 years. Seventy-five per cent of the children are First Nations. Jenny writes: “Since our community has many social problems, it is one small thing we as patrollers can do to introduce children to a lifelong healthy activity such as skiing and snowboarding. I have been involved with this program since it started and love to see a child who struggles at school because of fetal alcohol and other learning problems do so well and return to the ski hill on the weekends and holidays. All the local First Nation bands financially support their children for weekends and holidays but not the school ski program.” 

CSP life members are often heralded as builders of the CSP. Jenny brought the CSP to Canada’s north. She integrated the CSP into the community, has sustained a ski hill in a remote community and with her vision, the ski patrol has taken steps to improve the lives and experiences of children in the north. She quietly and professionally goes about leading, fostering, building, supporting, training, and cheering on the CSP and her small hill within her small zone. 

Simply put, the CSP would not have a presence in Watson Lake if it were not for Jenny Skelton. Congratulations on being recognized as CSP Life Member No. 90. 


Kirstie Simpson – Yukon Zone, Life Member No. 91 

By Elizabeth Oldfield, Life Member No. 44, Calgary Zone (oldfield@telusplanet.net

Throughout her 29 years on the patrol, Kirstie Simpson has become a leader at the zone and national levels who has contributed advanced knowledge to the organization, especially related to Nordic patrolling, on snow operations, and avalanche awareness. 

In order to raise the profile of the Yukon Zone Nordic patrol, Kirstie initiated a rostered patrol at the “Easy Like Sunday” weekly cross-country ski family days, setting up a snow machine with the CSP flag and organizing snacks for the public on the trails. One of the results of Kirstie’s efforts was that the number of patrollers for Yukon Zone Nordic patrol exceeded that of the alpine patrol for the first time. 

Kirstie has provided countless avalanche awareness courses to patrollers all over the north, which have contributed to increased safety in Yukon and Northern B.C. avalanche terrain. 

In her role as patroller coordinator at Mount Sima, Kirstie has strengthened the relationship between the patrol and hill management. There is good communication and responsiveness to each other’s needs. Kirstie has demonstrated professional leadership and has set high standards for herself and for others, improving the quality of the patrol itself. 

Kirstie took on the role of CSP National Nordic Coordinator. She led a team from across Canada to rewrite the Nordic portion of the CSP Operations Manual. It is now part of the official manual and provides detailed guidance and standards for Nordic patrolling.  

In the summer of 2020, Kirstie undertook research and developed a COVID-19 protocol for the CSP Yukon Zone. This protocol was among the first in Canada and was subsequently used to support the development of CSP COVID-19 protocols to ensure that we could continue providing our first aid and rescue services safely. 

Kirstie has demonstrably grown the CSP in the North, is highly regarded in the north and Western Canada for her expertise in all things Avalanche, has documented guidance for Nordic patrolling in Canada and was an early developer of COVID-19 protocols. The Canadian Ski Patrol is a stronger organization because of her contributions.   

We were extremely proud to present Kirstie with CSP Life Member No. 91 at the CSP Mountain Division gathering in early September in Calgary. 

CSP life members 2023

This post is also available in: Français