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Stéphane Barrette

As the national sport organization for cross-country and para-Nordic skiing, Nordiq Canada partners with provincial and territorial sport organizations, clubs, and others to provide the leadership, support, and resources needed for all Canadians to find their own greatness in our sport, whether they aspire to ski for their country or for fun and fitness.

  • PASSION: We are committed to making a difference at all levels of our sport
  • RESPECT: We believe in providing a safe, fair, and fun environment for all participants
  • IMPROVEMENT: We innovate to continuously improve
  • DRIVE: We pursue our goals with absolute determination
  • EXCELLENCE: We set the bar high to achieve sporting success – fairly and ethically

Tell us about yourself?

I have been a big fan of the sport since my teenage years, and sport, in general, quickly appealed to me as a professional endeavour. So, I decided to start by completing a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at U of Montreal, which I completed in 1994. Straight out of school, I started to work as Ski de Fond Quebec’s executive director and provincial team head coach. After 12 years at the helm of the Quebec Federation for cross-country skiing, I decided it was time for me to expand my knowledge and contribution to grow the sport at the national level. Thus, I started working for Nordiq Canada as the Eastern Canada high-performance coordinator in 2006 (called Cross Country Canada at the time). Over the years, I have occupied different positions within the organization, the bulk of that time leading the Sport Development area, until spring 2020 (yes, at the start of the pandemic…) when I was promoted to the CEO position.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Learn to put things in perspective. Amateur sport is a challenging environment with constant capacity/funding challenges, mainly working with volunteers and with emotions running high! You will never get it 100 per cent perfect. You always have to do the best you can with what you have, but that means learning to be satisfied sometimes with an outcome that may not be optimal. There are so many gaps and priorities to work on that you must constantly prioritize and assess where the best return on investment will be.

Nordiq Canada

What problem does your business solve?

Adding capacity to assist provincial and territorial sport organizations to best support clubs and the membership at large, with the goal of everyone having a great experience cross-country skiing, regardless of age, level, background, etc. Supporting Canada’s best athletes to proudly and successfully represent Canada internationally.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

To put all Canadians on skis and more Canadian athletes on podiums. Canada is a big country! As the single national sport organization for cross-country skiing recognized and supported by the Government of Canada, Nordiq Canada brings all Canadian skiers together to achieve goals on a scale that would be out of reach without uniting forces.

What is your magic sauce?

We don’t have any competition. 😉 There is only one recognized National Sport Organization per sport by the Government of Canada. But our magic sauce is the passionate and effective staff and board members who together work to unite all cross-country skiers around the country. Because together, we are stronger. It allows us to share resources and best practices and build a sense of belonging for a large community of passionate cross-country skiers.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Make our sport as safe and inclusive as possible. Help athletes achieve international podiums, including at the Olympics and Paralympics in 2026 and 2030. Grow participation from all ages and from all backgrounds. Make the cross-country ski community as diverse as the Canadian population in general. Develop programs and resources for participants to have the greatest experience possible whether they do it for fun, fitness, social or performance!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Unfortunately, it is not very original: funding. As a National Sport Organization (NSO), we depend a lot on federal government funding, even though we also have many other sources of funding. Our core funding from the Federal Government has been the same since 2010, but as we all know, in the meantime, cumulative inflation since then has been about 35 to 40 per cent. This is a big chunk of money to replace, while it has also been getting harder to find major sponsorships and donations. Nordiq Canada and other NSOs may have to proceed with significant cuts in programming and services unless that significant funding gap is addressed very soon.

How can people get involved?

Small donations from anyone can go a long way in helping Nordiq Canada pursue its mission for the benefit of all Canadians. We are a not-for-profit organization. All revenues are used towards supporting the development of cross-country skiers of all ages and all levels, from pulk to podium, as we like to say. People can donate and/or find out more about our organization by visiting our website: