Katimavik Trying to Survive

Happy Canada Day from the kids in the Windsor and Blutcher / Picton Neighbourhood Photo by Nicole Baxter
The Windsor and Blutcher / Picton Neighbourhood Photo by Nicole Baxter
Happy Canada Day from the kids in the Windsor and Blutcher / Picton Neighbourhood Photo by Nicole Baxter
The Windsor and Blutcher / Picton Neighbourhood Park was the last project in Thunder Bay by Katimavik – Photo by Nicole Baxter

OTTAWA – The Katimavik Board of Directors have announced the organization will have to permanently shut down the organization and submit its charter at the end of this fiscal year if no adequate commitment is confirmed from the Canadian federal government.

This follows efforts for more than a year trying to engage with the federal government in discussions on youth services, with no response.

First Nations leaders and other groups are finding similar responses from the Trudeau Government. Long delays or inaction on promises.

In 2012, the previous federal government ended Katimavik’s funding, which resulted in suspending the national program shortly after. Since then the organization has used its limited resources to pilot new programming, focusing on Indigenous youth and youth emerging from government care. Even in these difficult funding circumstances this programming offering opportunities for young people to volunteer and serve delivered promising results.

The government has acknowledged that there is a vital role for youth services programming in Canada.

Katimavik’s Board of Directors state that they have a proven and successful formula. It has more than 35,000 alumni and has supported 11,000 organizations in over 1,000 communities.

Katimavik Awaits Prime Minister Trudeau to Honour Promises

Starting in 2012 and prior to taking office in October 2015, the Prime Minister said he would restore Katimavik. While this commitment was not delivered explicitly in last year’s federal budget, the budget did commit $105 million to youth volunteer services and on that basis Katimavik actively enhanced its programming.

Now though, without an explicit commitment to fund Katimavik going forward, the organization says they will have no choice but to shut down.

The new Katimavik is focused on 21st century challenges. The organization and its youth volunteers work with community partners; Katimavik deploys new teaching and learning methods to meet the changes that are being felt widely in this rapidly changing world.

“This includes active reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. Reconciliation is a key theme for Canada 150, and we are working for a better country that is inclusive, supportive and just for all citizens” says Saga Williams, Vice Chair and an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Law School, teaching Indigenous law and reconciliation.

Katimavik also developed mutually beneficial partnerships with youth organizations, Indigenous groups and postsecondary institutions to create a network that will collaborate in addressing important issues for Canada.

In the year of Canada’s 150th anniversary it is time to launch the new national youth service program, with engaged partners and its track record of success.

“The new programing is builds on this exceptional track-record of Katimavik’s accomplishments in the past 40 years. Having young Canadians volunteer in communities across the country would benefit everyone and align with several of the government’s stated priorities,” says Catherine Drouin, an alumni member of the Katimavik Board of Directors.

Again though, without an explicit commitment from the federal government to work together to support youth services, the Board has concluded it will have no option than to begin an orderly shut-down as of March 31st, 2017.

“As a recent alumnus and a director, I am particularly saddened that Katimavik may have to cease operations by the end of this fiscal year. It was an extremely difficult and heartbreaking decision to take, but our organization has exhausted all of its funds and we can no longer ensure its survival,” says Dion Chong, an alumni member of the Board of Directors.

“Meanwhile, in the interests of developing youth and communities for a better Canada, we will continue to do everything we can to raise public awareness and get this government to support what is truly an impressive program and partnership network for youth,” says Willy Fournier, Chairperson.

Katimavik has tried to reach the government directly to address this situation. In December 2016, in a last-ditch effort to find an interim solution, the Katimavik Board of Directors contacted the federal government through a direct letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urgently requesting interim funding.

The letter contained detailed information on the updated programming and the new approach that Katimavik is taking towards Reconciliation and key challenges faced by youth.

There has been no response from the Prime Minister to this request nor have other federal cabinet Ministers responded to correspondence submitted over the past year.

Katimavik remains hopeful that the federal government intends to resume sustained funding before March 31st, 2017.

About Katimavik

Founded in 1977, Katimavik is a national non-profit organisation. Its mission is to develop diverse youth as capable contributors, compassionate citizens and leaders for a better Canada. Through experiential learning, Katimavik enables young Canadians to become responsible citizens who seek to make a positive change in their lives and in their communities. For 40 years, Katimavik has enabled over 35,000 young Canadians to become actively involved in their communities

Katimavik is currently operating in Quebec, through its Eco-Internship program. Since 2008, this program allows young people to take tangible actions for the environment through voluntary service and the development of group projects in their community.

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