Ottawa
Today, the Crossing Canada for Katimavik relay is set to land in Whitehorse, Yukon and Goosebay, Newfoundland, the first checkpoints in the Western and Eastern routes of the journey. With a total of 50 different host communities being reached during the relay, participants in Crossing Canada for Katimavik will be carrying a package that includes petition sheets to Ottawa to reverse the termination of Katimavik, a program that has employed 30,000 young volunteers who have previously provided work for 500 not-for-profit organizations across every province and territory. With the 2012 federal budget axing all funding for Katimavik, this relay is an attempt to save one of Canada's oldest and largest youth-volunteer programs.

And while some commentators seemed to agree with the government's decision, which was apparently due to the expense of the program in relation to the number of people it impacts, many others felt differently. The issues Katimavik targets, such as social services, and environmental and sustainable development, are similar to those targeted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Not only this, but the Katimavik program is said to positively impact youth by becoming active members in Canadian communities through group leading, communications, counselling, and more.

In fact, Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden wrote a piece for The Globe and Mail this past April that outlined just what a strong impact the institution had on his parents growing up. His mom, who has spent the past 20 years as a community coordinator in the non-profit housing industry, "learned as much from those kids as she taught them," while his dad, who has since taught management classes, aboriginal business development in Ontario, and managed Ontario's Tourism Education Council, recalled "being thrown headfirst into a leadership role in Arundel and realizing his potential as a manager straight away."

This year's budget cuts have resulted in the cancellation of 600 youths providing their service to the country and have left hundreds of not-for-profit organizations without volunteers for the remainder of 2012. As the group of racers, known as Voyagers, move across each end of the country—whether it's by foot, bicycle, boat, car, plane, or whatever means is available to them—they will engage Canadians in each of the communities they stop in to sign the petition, as well as some t-shirts, and write in a journal about the negative effects of losing Katimavik.

In Ottawa, the petition, two shirts and journals will be offered to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages who will become honorary Katimavik alumni upon acceptance. It is also hoped that the relay will also inspire some dialogue among the residing MP and the organizations in the communities that have been affected by this cut.

If you'd like to find out how to volunteer or whether the relay will be passing through your community, visit the Crossing Canada for Katimavik website.

 

 
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