Dalhousie School in Winnipeg takes home $1,000 prize for building 55 snow people

For this year's submission, 250 students spent an afternoon building 55 snow people with signs of hello in different languages. 

250 students from the school participated in an annual snow competition

Michelle Barclay holds up the prize won by students of Dalhousie School. She says she started the project as an effort to fundraise for environmental organizations. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Winners of the annual Last Snowman Winnipeg contest are announced — and among the list are 250 students from Dalhousie School. 

For this year's submission, the students spent an afternoon building 55 snow people with signs of hello in different languages. 

"I'm very excited," said teacher and librarian Michelle Barclay who accepted the prize for the school on their behalf on Sunday at Assiniboine Park, when the winners were announced. 

Maria den Oudsten, a former Winnipegger, funds the contest. This year, five thousand dollars worth of cash prizes were handed out to eight contestants — with first place going to Wayne Casper for his large snow couple. 

Dalhousie School won $1,000 in the school group category. 

"The kids are going to be very happy because they put a lot of effort into their snowmen and they're going to be really happy with this recognition and the cheque that goes along with it," said Barclay, who oversaw the project at the school.

Snow people built by students from Dalhousie School in Winnipeg. (Last Snowman Winnipeg)

She initially wanted to participate in it to raise money; the contest vows to donate one dollar to an environmental organization for every snow person that's built this year. 

Ten classes came out one afternoon to build all 55 snow people and as for the languages, that idea was sparked by the theme that differences make the school stronger, Barclay said. 

"We're very multicultural. We have a lot of newcomers in our school … so we just wanted to highlight that," said Barclay. 

Sandra Hasenack is committee chair of the contest. She says this year, there were two schools who participated. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The contest is about more than just snow, though.

"What snowman building is about is … getting people out, enjoying nature, enjoying their community, being with another person," said Sandra Hasenack, committee chair of the contest. 

Hasenack admits the name of the contest is outdated as "snowman" is not gender-neutral. She says they will probably change the name next year. 

"When you've started with something, you don't want to change mid-course … for sure we will be going with snow people [next year]," she said.

Hasenack says with all the bad news recently — COVID-19, a harsh winter in Winnipeg and the war in Ukraine — the contest offered a much-needed reminder of joyful things. 

"It gives us a break so that we can kind of smile about what's happening in our own personal space. That, to me, was the biggest thing that we did as a community," she said. 

"We got people thinking, you know what, life is great. It is great."

For Barclay, seeing students at Dalhousie get their hands wet was a highlight. She said some students who are newcomers have never built snow people before. 

"Our snow was very deep in front of our school, so lots of kids were like losing their boots and getting stuck in the snow," she said. 

"It was just super fun and they all came back inside laughing, happy and wet."