Refugee kids learn to ski — with a little help from gummy worms

CBC News Ottawa - On a frigid winter morning in the Gatineau Hills, two children layered in snow pants, parkas and wooly scarves step into matching pairs of red and white skis. 

"It's fun," smiles eight-year-old Zahra, despite the bone-chilling temperature. 

Zahra and her brother Saad, 12, arrived in Canada at the beginning of 2016. Their family came as refugees from Syria.

They hadn't seen snow before arriving here. Now they're learning to glide through it on cross-country skis.

"We managed to find some skis and some gear for them, and here we are," said Parham Momtaham, one of their coaches. 

A friend of his sponsored Zahra and Saad's family to come to Canada, and mentioned that the kids were interested in learning to ski.

Four coaches at Nakkertok Val-des-Monts will take turns teaching the nine-week course to four Syrian children, including Zahra and Saad. The ski club has waived the usual $90 membership fee for the children.

Momtaham is uniquely qualified to teach the new Canadians, since he was one himself. He immigrated from Iran when he was in his early 20s, he told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. 

"One of my friends dragged me out on skis," Momtaham laughed, recalling one of his early outings. "I fell 55 times."