Demise of Katimavik reflects misguided priorities

OTTAWA - Canada's Official Opposition today slammed the Harper government's decision to completely defund Katimavik, a popular youth exchange program that has challenged Canadian youth to explore our country's diversity and achieve personal development through voluntary service since the 1970s.
"This is perhaps the most cynical example to date of a Conservative approach to culture which seems ready to sacrifice even the most celebrated initiatives upon the altar of ideology," said New Democrat Heritage Critic Tyrone Benskin (Jeanne-Le Ber).
Katimavik, which was driven by the goal of parallel development of Canadian youth and communities, was effectively eliminated in this federal budget. The decision has sparked a furious backlash, with alumni from across Canada mounting a spirited defence and passionately arguing for the program's preservation.
“I worked with Katimavik. It’s an outstanding program that brings young Canadians together to forge life-long friendships, give back to their community, and increase cultural understanding and care for the environment,” said MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley). “I grew as a person while working with the organization. It showed me the possibilities of Canadians and of this country.”
The Conservatives still have the chance to reverse their course on Katimavik, as New Democrat MP Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne-Blainville) has introduced a motion calling on the government to work with all members of the House to address any concerns they might have with the running of the program and restore funding for this important youth engagement program.
“Katimavik shows youth that they do matter and that they can make a difference. It builds responsible, engaged citizens,” said Borg. “I feel that it is important to save this program as it offers English Canadians and Québécois the opportunity to learn each other’s languages and live and breathe each other’s cultures.”