The much-loved Katimavik program has reportedly been cut from the federal budget, but a spokesperson with the organization told The Observer he could not comment either way.
More than 1,000 young Canadians take part in Katimavik each year, and in Hope the group comprises 10 volunteers who participate in a variety of non-profit activities, offering support where needed.
Recently they have worked with Coquihalla elementary school, Hope Community Services, and the Hope Care Transit through Free Rein.
It’s unclear what the future of Katimavik will be in Hope, if the program’s funding has been cut entirely.
When contacted by phone on Wednesday, a representative said they’ve been told not to make any comment whatsoever about the cut.
However, a very vocal group of past Katimavik participants are ready to speak up about the program’s importance.
Katimavik alumni and concerned community members will gather at Heritage Minister James Moore’s constituency office at noon Monday, April 23, to protest the elimination of the program.
“I was appalled when Minister James Moore described ending funding for Katimavik as one of the easiest decisions he’s ever made,” said organizer and Katimavik alumni Edward Pullman. “It is an amazing program with huge returns on investment to both participants and communities hosting katimavik groups.”
Heritage Canada’s studies on Katimavik show that the program generates $2.20 for every dollar spent. Participants logged over 500 000 hours of volunteer time in 2011 alone in projects ranging from childcare to construction to office management.
AdvantageHOPE stated in a letter to Moore that the value of the volunteer work Katimavik funneled into the community would be equal to $150,000 in wages.
“The visible work they accomplished in trail building, public space maintenance and event support, combined with their work placements, served their mandate of “eco-citizenship and active living” very well,” Cindy Helmer, president of Advantage Hope, wrote. “We are already seeing a similar, if not more pronounced, impact in 2012.”
Pullman sent information to the media on Tuesday about the protest, and the benefits of the program.
“Participants of the program, myself included, gain job and domestic skills that will help them succeed in the workplace and at home, not to mention a source of civic pride from getting to travel and explore this vast country,” said Pullman. “Despite all of the tangible benefits of Katimavik, this government has demonstrated it’s not interested in facts, just rhetoric that is hurting communities and the youth of this country.”
In addition to Katimavik’s loss, the government has also eliminated youth job centres administered by Service Canada.
“There is a crisis of youth unemployment in this country. This government’s actions have shown that it simply does not care about this crisis or the youth of our country,” Pullman said.
The protest will take place at 12 p.m., Monday April 23 at Minister James Moore’s constituency office, 2603 St Johns Street, Port Moody. A parallel protest will be taking place in Ottawa on the same day.