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The Federal government has decided to cancel the funding in June 2012 for the Katimavik Program that has invested in youth and communities in Canada since 1977.

I recently called Victoria Salvadore, Director of Communications, for Katimavik to try and learn more.
Last year 1,462 young people age 17-21 completed the six month programs in 64 communities helping 500 community non profit partners. In 2010-2011 the retention rate of the volunteers was 85%.

The cost to house and feed these volunteers was $77.00 per day. They were involved in working in community based programs valued at $13,952.00.

Because of the cancellation 62 of the 64 programs effecting thousands of people will not be able to come to fruition. The funding to Katimavik was budgeted by the government to run until March 20, 2013. The early cancellation will mean that 600 young people who were supposed to start the program in July will not be able to volunteer their services in Canada. It is now too late for them to send along their university/community college applications.

The volunteers work from 9-5 to help the people in communities in Canada with absolutely no money for their work. They will learn one of Canada’s official languages and use their experience to use on their resume.

The young people volunteered their time and commitment to make a difference and now the Katimavik program will disappear without government funding.

Many young people are searching for their special place in society. Katkimavik’s emphasis on structure and real life meaningful activities over the years have helped 30,000 learn that fulfillment doesn’t come from what we want to have but from what they have to give. They learn from the program that doing good outweighs doing well.

I have counseled many young people to try and find themselves and learn about the reality of Canada. They send me e-mails describing their amazing experiences traveling across our vast land to fill their six months of a gap year to be able to be of service to Canadians. Some of them spent their time tutoring native elementary school children in Northern communities. Working in soup kitchens/food banks in Toronto and Montreal opened their eyes to those living on the fringe of society compared to the comfortable life in London that they had grown up to believe was the norm. "The program enabled them to develop personal, social and professional skills that are not learned in school."

The cancellation of Katimavik to save fifteen million dollars wastes the talents of our talented youth whose first priority is to make a difference and serve their country.

In my opinion the Katimavik program should be expanded to enable access to more young people and communities to be able get involved with the program. Katimavik is worth saving.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com