Kate Fabien-Ferrol, second from left, is seen in a CBC publicity image for the show Canada's Ultimate Challenge.
When Yellowknife resident Kate Fabien-Ferrol was first contacted by CBC producers about appearing on an upcoming television show, she didn’t think it was real.
In an interview earlier this month, Fabien-Ferrol – a fitness and wellness coach – told Cabin Radio she “honestly ignored it for probably about a month because I thought it was a scam.”
The producer and casting director sent a follow-up email. Even then, she showed it to her husband with a skeptical eye. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know about this.'”
Eventually, having gone through the application process, she got the call – convinced herself it was real – and was cast to appear on Canada’s Ultimate Challenge.
The show – set to premiere on CBC and CBC Gem at 8pm MT on Thursday – aims to turn Canada into an obstacle course. Each contestant is placed into a group led by one of six coaches who guide and mentor their teams.
Producers say they hope to show Canada in a new light.
The landmarks visited “were so iconic,” said Fabien-Ferrol, who flew from Yellowknife to Toronto to begin filming.
“You’re definitely going to see Canada in a way you’ve never seen before, and the types of challenges that they’re able to create in these landscapes were amazing.”
As part of – appropriately – the yellow team, Fabien-Ferrol was coached by Waneek Horn-Miller, a water polo legend who in 2000 became the first Mohawk woman from Canada to reach the Olympic Games.
Fabien-Ferrol said being in Horn-Miller’s presence daily was “probably the best part of that show.”
“She’s so spiritual and so in-tune with her culture, sharing her knowledge and all her wisdom with us,” Fabien-Ferrol said.
As a mother of three, she found being away from her family the toughest aspect of filming a show like this. Her biggest accomplishment came when she spoke up for herself as her coach decided who should take on which part of a particular challenge.
“There was one episode, one challenge, where coach wanted me to switch the roles we were going to do. That was the first time where I stood up … and said, ‘I feel more confident doing this. I know I’ve never done it before, but trust me, I have to do this part of the challenge.'”
Fabien-Ferrol says she learned she is more competitive than she thought, especially in a team environment, having focused on individual sports like gymnastics when she was younger.
“I also learned that I definitely lack a lot of confidence,” she said. “I need to learn how to push myself outside of my comfort zone a little more and speak up for myself, like within the show.
“There are probably a couple of challenges that I should have jumped at and offered to do, but other people were just more confident in themselves.”
Correction: February 15, 2023 – 9:14 MT. This article originally stated the show airs at 6pm MT on Thursday. It actually airs at 8pm across Canada (with 8:30pm in Newfoundland & Labrador being the only exception).