Gym upgrades support community health and fitness

The Major Contributions Grant was designed to support larger projects on Haida Gwaii in the areas of community infrastructure and planning. It’s available to local non-profits and governments, and the maximum application amount is $250,000. The final intake for 2022 is September 1st at 4pm.

Between shifting COVID-19 protocols and significant price increases for everything from building materials to equipment, learning to pivot as a nonprofit is integral to success in today’s world. The Haida Gwaii Fitness Association (HGFA), located in Gaaw Masset, shows us how it’s done, while inspiring others along the way.

The HGFA gym is currently the largest and most comprehensive gym on Haida Gwaii, with 90 members and growing. After conducting a survey they were able to identify key pieces of equipment that community members were interested in seeing added or upgraded, including medicine balls, exercise bikes, weights, battle ropes, and a jump box.  They also sought funding to build a portico over the gym entrance to shelter users from the wind and rain.  

In 2021 the HGFA received a Major Contributions Grant of $28,400 for equipment upgrades and building renovations and were able to leverage those funds to receive a donation from Northern Savings Credit Union.  While the original application included additional renovations, due to increases in the price of building materials and shipping the organization had to quickly pivot and chose instead to redirect those funds to purchase additional equipment.

With the auctioning off and donation of outgoing equipment, other communities on Haida Gwaii have been inspired to build their own gym, including HIgaagilda Skidegate and the Queen Charlotte Fire Department in Daajing Giids.

We reached out to HGFA director, Genevieve Gay, to learn more about their project.

“The Haida Gwaii Fitness Association was one of the fortunate recipients of a Gwaii Trust Major Contributions Grant in 2021/2022. We were ecstatic to receive the grant and worked diligently to see it through. We were in need of equipment upgrades and some improvements to our facility.

The process of applying and receiving a major contributions grant is front-heavy, in that it requires your organization to meticulously outline just what, exactly your project seeks to accomplish and to lock down your quotes. It requires your organization to press “confirm” on your supply quote when it may seem daunting to do so. With no guarantees that you will receive funding, it can feel like a period of goals purgatory for a time, waiting on approval. However, the process (whether your project is approved or not) is a catalyst for your organization to move forward and to re-establish your goals and vision as a unit. 

The Haida Gwaii Fitness Association is made up of a variety of individuals who represent the different training needs of our gym community. When we sat down to hash out the details of our new gym equipment order, our equipment list was long, and our “To do” List was even longer. The Village of Masset supported us by providing us access to a fantastic grant writer, who guided us through our application. We received funding support from Northern Savings, and letters of recommendation from reputable local organizations. It was a lot of time and effort, but our community is worth it! By holding ourselves to a higher standard and committing to maintaining our gym and making incremental improvements, we hold ourselves to a high standard, elevating the community in doing so.

Haw’aa to Gwaii Trust for supporting our project and giving our community the gift of health and fitness.”

Interested in learning more about the HGFA? Visit them on Facebook @HaidaGwaiiFitness or email

Did you Know…

  • Project Officer Meghan Cross is available to help you through the process and answer any questions you may have:  / 250 559 5806
  • The deadline to apply for the final intake of 2022 is September 1st at 4pm
  • There is still $1.15 million available in the Major Contributions Grant budget for 2022