Alumni using Katimavik experience to influence others
Katimavik has thousands of accomplished alumni who have gone on to remarkable accomplishments after completing the National Experience. They’ve all applied the skills acquired through the program in pursuit of various endeavors.
Here are three of their stories:
Before joining the Katimavik National Experience, Victoria, who’s from Waterloo, Ontario, had read up on Canada’s colonial history and was aware of some of the realities faced by Indigenous youth today — but that proved very different than learning hands-on from face-to-face encounters. She found the emphasis on experiential learning a truly ”transformative” aspect of her experience.
“The program provided me with the opportunity to listen to, learn from, and engage with Indigenous communities across the country,” she said. Through hearing the varying perspectives of Indigenous participants in her group and attending ceremonies such as sweat lodges and the Sundance, she was struck by the facts and figures she had previously heard of, now brought to life. Not to mention, the diversity of different Indigenous Nations and communities had never been so clear.
For their final community project, Project Bitimagamasing, Victoria’s group collaborated with community organizer Bruce McComber to erect a billboard overlooking Ramsey Lake in Sudbury, Ontario, reflecting its traditional Anishinaabemowin name. Victoria helped spearhead communications for the project, which included writing the press release and taking pictures at the launch event.
“It reaffirmed my commitment to making positive impacts moving forward,” she shared. Upon finishing Katimavik in Moncton, New Brunswick and Sudbury, Ontario, Victoria moved to Brussels, Belgium to work as a Multimedia Library Intern with NATO. Yang later traveled to Ecuador as part of another UN delegation. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Toronto.
Eight years ago, Segen chose to go vegetarian for environmental reasons. Sustainability has always been a subject close to her heart, and she brought that commitment to eco-stewardship with her when she joined the Katimavik National Experience.
With other Volunteers in her groups in Quebec City and Calgary, she sought out opportunities for environmental workshops and brought in community members to teach participants how to grow their own garden. The herbs and tomato plants in the backyard of the Calgary house are still blooming!
Together, the group also learned to make sourdough, attended a sustainable fashion panel, and undertook a waste-free week challenge. Everyday conversations about food waste and responsible meat consumption even encouraged one member to go vegetarian during the program. Segen enjoyed taking a leadership role in these talks, particularly concerning consumer habits.“In terms of diet, clothing, technology,” she said, “there are so many ways I try to be conscious of who I’m buying from, whether I really need it.”
Just as she helped plan the group’s camping trip to Banff, Alberta, Segen spent her months after Katimavik portaging with Project Canoe. In this job, she took youth facing socioeconomic barriers to Algonquin Park, a natural space they would not otherwise have access to.
“If you have a connection to or appreciation of nature, you’ll want to protect it,” she said.
Segen credits Katimavik with helping her see all the ways to get involved right at home.
“I used to be entirely uninspired by Mississauga,” she said of her Ontarian hometown.
Since completing the National Experience, Mehreteab has been hired by Katimavik as a Project Leader for Peterborough, where she’s gotten to influence her house and a new generation of Participant-Volunteers.
“There are so many ways to be involved,” she said. “I see change as so much more attainable.
“I hated cooking before Katimavik, actually despised it,” said Katelynne, who was born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, “and I love cooking now. I love cooking for other people.”
For Katelynne, being House-Manager was not only a great time to experiment in the kitchen, but it also became fun along the way. She certainly finished strong, preparing a delicious meal of moose meat empanadas during their final week!
Cooking was far from the only skill she fostered during her time in the program. Having taken a leadership role in her group, she consistently sought out activities and developed confidence in decision-making, taking accountability, and project management. In Sudbury, she spearheaded the unveiling of the group’s community project – her first event-planning experience – which offered much behind-the-scenes insight, such as creating partnerships and responding to emergencies.
Katelynne, who is Inuit from Kuujjuaq, Québec and completed her National Experience in Moncton, New Brunswick and Sudbury, Ontario, now works as the Indigenous Governance Officer for VIDEA in BC. She was recently elected onto the Commission for UNESCO Youth Advisory Group to represent Canada in Paris this November for their 11th Annual Youth Forum – as well as to represent North America and Europe on their Steering Committee to plan the Forum itself! In designing the conference, Katelynne is relying on her planning experience in Sudbury and bringing to Paris ideas from the Leaders Today Global Youth Summit she attended in Toronto in August 2018 as a Katimavik participant.
As she shared with us, “the program influenced me to walk with more compassion and patience with others and myself.”