Katimavik allowed me to connect with people from across the country and from all walks of life that I never would have otherwise met if not for this program.
Johannah Brockie was a Katimavik National Experience participant in January – July 2020
How would you describe Katimavik National Experience overall?
I would describe my Katimavik National Experience as challenging and dynamic; no one day was the same as the next. I was challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally in ways I could not have imagined before taking part in the program myself. I was able to utilize my existing skillset to contribute to team projects, while also learning a great amount from the skillsets of others. I was able to see more of my home country than I ever had before through educational and breathtaking experiences. Katimavik also allowed me to connect with people from across the country and from all walks of life that I never would have otherwise met if not for this program.
Did your life change after Katimavik? If yes, in what way?
Yes! Katimavik allowed me to create an incredible network of brilliant and compassionate leaders who want to see me succeed. My Project Leaders were two of the most wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Both have been incredibly supportive since my time in the program came to an end, and have graciously given their time and energy to provide me with countless references for various positions. I have continued to keep in touch with many individuals I met in the communities I visited throughout my Katimavik journey.
Your advice to current and future participants:
Be gentle with yourself, and let others pick up your slack on the hard days. You will do the same for them down the line.
Nothing is certain…take every opportunity you possibly can during this program, especially when it’s scary.
Last, be kind. Be curious. Have fun. You’re going to crush it.
Where were your rotations and volunteer placements?
My first rotation was in Nanaimo, British Columbia from July to October 2020 where I was placed with the Society for Equity, Inclusion, and Advocacy. Here, I was able to meet an incredible group of advocates who support Nanaimo’s most vulnerable individuals, namely those who are underhoused. I was able to take part in community outreach work, have incredible conversations with locals, and support them through the provision of various supplies and information about social services.
My second rotation was from October to December 2020 in Winnipeg, Manitoba where I was placed with Festival du Voyageur. There, I supported in maintaining Lower Fort Garry as well as with coordinating school programming.
What achievement(s) are you most proud of?
No one in my cohort left in the second rotation, despite being in a lockdown in the dead of winter. We persevered and found ways to meaningfully (and safely) engage with the community despite all the obstacles we encountered.
My team was able to coordinate and facilitate conversations with politicians at all levels of government during both of our rotations. We also managed to successfully plan and execute two excursions during our first rotation, one to Tofino and one to Vancouver. I was able to see the renowned Ken Monkman exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, and surf for the first time in Tofino, which was a goal I had for many years prior.
What was your reaction to the pandemic?
When the pandemic first hit, it was of course jarring and discouraging as it was for so many others. I was unable to continue the work I loved so much (facilitating programming for folks with intellectual disabilities) and I was feeling helpless.
After having some time to process the situation, I reminded myself that service work and forming connections with community members is more important now than at any other point in my life time. The pandemic has only exacerbated the inequities in our communities, and left already marginalized individuals even more vulnerable.
I wanted to find a way to continue to support such individuals in a safe and meaningful way throughout the pandemic; that’s when I decided to apply for Katimavik!
What is the most memorable episode (funny story) you’d like to share?
Some of my most memorable moments were surfing for the first time (in Tofino), and getting to hang out with a bunch of puppies and sleeping in a treehouse on Lasqueti Island (near Nanaimo).
Your advice to current and future participants.
My advice would to be honest, communicative and compassionate toward each other (even when it’s hard). Your skillset will be tested in this program in a way unlike it ever has been before. Being accountable to yourself and to your team will be crucial in creating the strongest bonds with one another, and thus, having the most successful (and fun!) experience. Be honest and clear with yourself and your team about your capabilities and energy as it varies from day-to-day. This changes with the wind on a regular basis, let alone with all the uncertainty a pandemic brings. Don’t forget – your PL and your team want to see you win!