Katimavik cuts irks MP

 

Published: April 05, 2012 10:00 AM
Updated: April 05, 2012 10:14 AM

The Honourable James Moore, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Canadian Heritage

Les Terrasses de la Chaudière, 12th Floor

15 Eddy Street

Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0M5

Dear Minister Moore,

I join many Canadians to request that the funding for Katimavik be reinstated. Over the past few years, I have personally witnessed the positive impact this program has had on communities in my riding. Not only have young people assisted in various worthwhile projects, they have brought a part of Canada with them to our area.

As a former French Immersion teacher, I have witnessed the goodwill and understanding that develop when young people from British Columbia and Quebec have a chance to learn about each other. It is not an exaggeration to say that Katimavik has been a force in our nation building. What better way to invest in national unity and fight division than to bring young people from all parts of our country together to work side by side on worthwhile projects in communities from coast to coast to coast?

As Mr. Dan Miles, Principal of JV Humphries School in Kaslo states:

“I was so impressed that these young people were given the opportunity to learn about volunteerism, to learn about Canada, to learn about themselves, all the while that they helped communities in ways we could never afford to pay people to do.”

According to Mayor Dieter Bogs of Trail, his community has always looked forward to students from across Canada to bring their perspective to Trail.

“Katimavik students have always been such super volunteers on numerous projects in our community.  They have been greatly missed since the last group was with us in 2010.  To see the program completely eliminated now is disheartening and would be the end of one of the best youth programs ever established in our country.”

Mayor Lawrence Chernoff of Castlegar also shared his thoughts about this decision.

“I am very disappointed in the government cancelling the Katimavik program, a program which represented the youth of Canada.  Katimavik students are a very hard working group that assisted many municipalities across Canada for many years; they are to be commended not cancelled.  Please return the funding to the Katimavik Program.”

As well as the positive relationships and tangible assistance that Katimavik has fostered, the financial contribution of the program cannot be understated. According to their most recent annual report, from 2010-11, “600 Katimavik volunteers worked 81,770 hours in 64 Canadian communities and served more than 500 community work partners. They created value to the tune of an estimated $10.8 million.” I can’t help but wonder what impact the multiplier effect has had across the country, particularly in smaller communities such as those in my riding of BC Southern Interior.

The manner in which this cancellation came about has me very concerned. The Government of Canada has a contract with Katimavik that includes a multi-year funding formula, ending in 2013. Many young people who have fashioned their plans for the future around assured acceptance into this year’s program have been deeply disappointed.

I question what message we are sending to Canadian young people by cutting this program, particularly in this way. We cannot tell them that they must live up to commitments in their lives when the Canadian government is not leading by example. If contracts can be broken so easily, our word becomes meaningless and trust erodes.

This is the antithesis of the message of commitment to community intentionally fostered by Katimavik. Instead of hope, the seeds of cynicism have been planted. Where that will take the young people of our country is unclear. In my view, the ripple effects of this decision will not be worth the relatively small amount of money saved.

Our country is a better place because of Katimavik. Please do everything in your power to have its funding restored.

Thank you for your attention to this matter of national importance.

Sincerely,

Alex Atamanenko, MP

BC Southern Interior

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