For decades, Canada had a program that embodied many of this great nations true values; community building, multiculturalism, pluralism, democracy, empowerment and hope for a brighter future. This program was Katimavik. On March 29 of 2012, as the vicious blade of the budget axe fell, it tore away a sliver of hope for many of this nations youth. Driving a stake deep into a program that had helped new generations forge a path forward for a nations future.
Every day youth, at-risk youth, young leaders, kids full of ideas, dreams and a desire to create a better nation, all have had an opportunity to grow through Katimavik. It's primary 9 month program tossed into a house ten youth from different economic and socio-cultural backgrounds, French, English and new immigrants to Canada. They had to learn to live and work together, to share resources and work in communities and cities across this nation and far into our northern communities. These youth would help build community halls, parks, train the handicapped and many other programs that desperately needed helping hands. And so too, did the communities where they lived and worked benefit.
Perhaps more importantly, these youth from all over this nation came together and would forge relationships that may last a lifetime. They would understand our nation better, see it's beauty and find ideas that they could implement as they grew older to make this nation a better place. As an alumni of the program in the 1980's, I can testify to Katimavik's ability to bring immense and invaluable change to a person. We learned to seek dialogue before conflict, to understand the complexities that make up our nation from different cultures to democracy to values. Because the participants did not pay, those in dire economic situations could also participate and grow, discovering their ability to push out from what might otherwise have been a meek existence. We found confidence in ourselves and one another. We came away with a deeper respect for other cultures and languages, one that would help ensure the values of Canada could go on and become even better.
A paltry blip on the budget lines of a nation, the callous and coldly calculating cut for political reasons have now ripped away perhaps the greatest opportunity for youth to find themselves and find a nation. A program that connected the future leaders of our country has been sanctioned to the hollow and miserable halls of infamy. Many thousands of Canadians who found hope through Katimavik will mourn this day...until perhaps once again, a more benevolent and hopeful government might resurrect it from the tailings pile of political pettiness.