It was a pleasure to recently host a group of Katimavik volunteers at Maplethorpe for their ‘Lunch and Learn’ session.
As an import to Canada from the United States, I am occasionally confronted by cultural practices or ways of seeing community life that really embody the difference between being ‘Canadian’ and being ‘American.’ Katimavik is one of those. It is a volunteer experience for 17-21 years olds. Canadian youth volunteer for this service opportunity that lasts 6 to 9 months. During that time, Katimavik volunteers live communally, frugally, and provide their labor and expertise to community and not-for-profit organizations that need a helping hand. Through these service opportunities the Katimavik youth volunteers get to see and explore unfamiliar parts of this vast country as they are posted far from their homes. They practice group living skills and are exposed to a rich variety of possible future endeavors through volunteer labor opportunities. Katmavik volunteers can ‘try out’ a variety of possible future occupations before making a final decision about the future.
Onward and Upward
The youth that were here were near the completion of their service obligation and talked with animation of next steps…university or college, work, and happy return home to waiting family. They also talked about how much they enjoyed working in daycare centres and with the elderly, how much they enjoyed snowshoeing through the Prince Edward Island countryside and the lasting friendships and impressions they were each taking away from their collective experience.
A new group of Katimavik volunteers will arrive shortly to replace these graduates and we hope to see them soon. More information on this great program is available at their website.