MVP of the Week: Charlie Bourque — Skiing, climbing and everything in between

Charlie Bourque hasn’t lived here long, but she is already embracing all that the West Coast offers.

Charlie Bourque is never at a loss for things to do in Prince Rupert.

The West Coast newcomer has brought with her one passion she’s enjoyed her whole life, and picked up a new passion as well, while dabbling in other interests Prince Rupert has to offer.

Skiing is Bourque’s first love, in a way that she can’t separate it from who she is anymore.

“I’ve been doing it my whole life. It’s part of my personality now. I don’t think I could picture my life without doing it,” she said.

Born and raised on the Gaspe Coast in eastern Quebec along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Bourque lived in a ski community. It didn’t hurt that both of her parents worked at the local ski hill, so she has been skiing from the time she could walk.

Bourque has been pleasantly surprised by the vibrant ski community Prince Rupert has to offer, even naming Shames Mountain as her favourite place she has ever skied.

“Everyone is close and everyone will help each other. Also because it’s a co-op, you really feel like everyone is smiling and waving at you. They all know you, it’s a great time,” Bourque said.

She only moved to Prince Rupert in September for a job at the French Immersion school, Roosevelt Park Community School, but she’s loving life here so far.

Between skiing, climbing, mountain biking (her latest addiction), hiking, kayaking and hopefully soon surfing, this community is perfect for her.

Bourque went to Shames Mountain nearly every weekend this season and it felt like home for her. She also took a five-day ski trip to the Duffey Lakes area southwest of Kamloops. Between Quebec and British Columbia skiing, her favourite part of it all is skiing powder.

“Finally the feeling of skiing powder, a good one. I think that’s really amazing. There’s no words to really describe it,” she said.

When she lived out east, Bourque skied competitively for two years, but she said she wasn’t very good and didn’t really like it, so she went back to keeping it fun.

“I like skiing because you have the adrenaline of going fast and being out in the snow. When you’re in the powder, it’s really fun,” she said.

Bourque doesn’t have any specific goals set for her skiing future, but she does dream of testing the snow in South America one day, particularly the Andes mountain range of Argentina.

In October, she discovered what has quickly turned into her second passion: climbing. Bourque has always wanted to climb, but she didn’t have a gym back home, so things developed quickly when she first came with a friend seven months ago. She has climbed outdoors and Devil’s Crag Climbing Wall in the rec centre nearly every day since.

“It’s about using my body at maximum and really feeling that I can be strong and I can go up higher. I can surpass myself,” she said.

A lot of what she has learned in the short time she’s been climbing is about trust.

“It taught me to trust myself and trust my strength to go where I want to go, it’s trusting my body. It also taught me to keep trying something until I get it, without giving up after the first try,” Bourque said.

Another highlight of the North Coast for her is how much outdoor climbing opportunities there are, describing the “tons of places around here and so many places that haven’t been explored yet.”

Skiing and climbing fit well into her life, mostly because she goes 100 per cent on each in different parts of the year.

“They really work together because it’s skiing for the winter and then when the snow melts, I switch to climbing. It’s perfect,” Bourque said.

It seems life in Prince Rupert will suit this newcomer just fine.