Our Story

About Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS)

CADS is a national, non-profit, volunteer-based organization that is dedicated to assisting individuals with a disability to enjoy the freedom and therapeutic benefits of skiing and snowboarding.  CADS receives no funding from Government and relies on revenues from memberships, donations, and sponsorships to operate.  CADS National includes more than 4500 skiers, snowboarders and volunteers from all regions of Canada.  Our volunteers and instructors have touched thousands of individuals, both on and off the slopes, for more than 40 years.

CADS-National Capital Division (NCD) is a divisional member of the national CADS organization providing programs and services to skiers, snowboarders and volunteers in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.  We are a volunteer organization that is committed to providing a safe, fun-filled environment for all participants.  CADS subscribes enthusiastically to the view that “Snowsports are for Everyone!”

Our Mission

CADS-NCD is dedicated to assisting individuals with a disability to lead richer and fuller lives through active participation in recreational and competitive snow skiing and snowboarding.

Our History

The origins of CADS goes back to Alberta in 1961 when Jerry Johnston, the Ski School Director at Sunshine Village, became intrigued with the idea of teaching young amputees to ski.  He developed teaching methods and equipment adaptations that established the foundation for a disabled skiing program that for several years was the only one of its kind in Canada. There was widespread interest in the program that Jerry was running and the program gradually expanded across Alberta and Canada.

In 1974, the first Canadian Disabled Skiing Festival was held at Sunshine Village and Canada was represented for the first time at the World Disabled Championships in France. The Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing was formed in 1976 with the support of the federal department of Fitness and Amateur Sport; Jerry Johnston assumed the duties of President and Executive Director.

The programs continued to expand across the country and the grassroots participation in adaptive programs supported the development of internationally successful Para Alpine athletes.

This growth has continued until today where CADS National provides technical and administrative leadership and support to eleven divisions and fifty-six programs across Canada.

One of the fundamental pillars of the CADS organization is the Instructors’ National Certification Program which provides the structure for the training and certification of CADS instructors who deliver the on-snow instruction to the skiers.  Central to the certification program is the Adaptive Snowsports Technical Manual which details the adaptive teaching techniques that allow the students to become successful skiing and snowboarding participants.


Skiing and snowboarding have proven to be an extremely user friendly sports for persons with a physical or intellectual disability.  Both are accessible to people who are visually and/or hearing impaired, amputees, people with spinal cord injuries, as well as people who have spina bifida, cerebral palsy, autism, cognitive delay, head injuries and many other types of disabilities.

The Program

With qualified instructors and adaptations to equipment, any person with a disability can access and enjoy alpine snowsports. The joy and excitement experienced by the participants and their families is evident every time they hit the slopes.  The skier and snowboarder’s life changing experiences of learning to ski or snowboard is so powerful that the volunteer instructors who work with the students often remain engaged in the program for decades.

CADS programs are based at specific ski areas and the partnerships between the area and the adaptive programs are strong and healthy.  At many of the ski areas across the country the CADS programs are running at capacity and are constrained by the availability of equipment and the number of volunteer instructors.  We are working hard to increase the number of volunteers to meet the needs of our ever-increasing number of skiers and snowboarders in this very popular program across the country.  We Need You! Our volunteer information page is here.

The Mount Pakenham Program

We are grateful for the generosity of Mount Pakenham owners and management, as well as the dedicated volunteers who make this program possible.

CADS offers an 8-week adaptive ski and snowboard program, consisting of one-hour lessons per session, starting the first week of January each year.  Participation is dependent on volunteer availability. Volunteers are certified through CADS, and the Canadian Ski Instructor Alliance. The program runs Wednesdays through Friday afternoons and evenings as well as weekends.  Participation in our program depends on the availability of volunteer instructors who are certified through CADS.  All disabilities and ages (three years of age and older) are accepted with a doctor’s referral.  New skiers are interviewed and assessed and must become members of CADS-NCD.  Contact our registrar for further information.

In addition to weekly lessons, CADS provides support to school groups that have students with special needs in their ski and snowboard programs. School groups must contact us in advance to make arrangements for an instructor.