A new winter sport has slid its way into Manitoba. On Monday, Community Living Winnipeg held the first-known ice canoe race in the city.

Crowds gathered to watch 12 teams of five compete in the 200-metre race on the frozen river as part of Festival du Voyageur.

"I think it was really embraced," said Janet Forbes, executive director of Community Living Winnipeg, which advocates for people with intellectual disabilities.

The organization was inspired to hold a ice canoe race in Winnipeg after seeing what happens in Quebec City, said Forbes. Ice canoeing is a long standing sport in Quebec and is a popular event at Quebec Winter Carnival.

"We're really excited to be a part of this because we really think it's important that everyone in our community be included and be welcome," said one of the Winnipeg racers, Tessa Blaikie-Whitecloud.

Janet Forbes

Janet Forbes, executive director of Community Living Winnipeg, says Monday's demonstration of an ice canoe race was a success. (CBC)

The sport of ice canoeing sees four people, two on each side of the boat, propel the canoe forward with one leg. The action is similar skateboarding, said Forbes.

A fifth participant runs behind the canoe steering and pushing the vessel forward on the ice. No paddles are involved. For Monday's race in Winnipeg, organizers dug out tracks for the boats filled with slush.

Forbes hopes excitement around ice canoeing in Winnipeg means the charity will be able to draw up to 60 teams for the race next year. Community Living Winnipeg hopes the Wild Winter Canoe Race becomes an annual fundraiser.

"It [is] a great display of strength and working together," said Forbes.

"Our organization has always been about innovation and trying things so this was a perfect opportunity to bring something new to Winnipeg and a way of including everybody."

With files from Terry MacLeod.