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Katimavik alumnus sorry to see program canceled

Ladner's Megan Bonin didn't know when she left for her Katimavik placement earlier this year that she was part of the last group of Canadian youths to benefit from the program.

Ladner's Megan Bonin didn't know when she left for her Katimavik placement earlier this year that she was part of the last group of Canadian youths to benefit from the program.

Katimavik is a national youth service organization that gives Canadians between the ages of 17 and 21 the opportunity to take part in six months of volunteer service. Over that time, the youths live together in a house and volunteer up to 650 hours in communities outside their home region.

Bonin, 18, returned from her six-month stint in Ottawa and Whitehorse in early summer.

The Delta Secondary grad said she was looking for something to bridge the gap between high school and her post-secondary education. She said she was working as a prep cook/ dishwasher but she "just wasn't feeling it anymore."

Through Katimavik she got to travel for the first time on her own and experience different work environments.

Bonin left Ladner in January for the nation's capital where she worked with Volunteer Ottawa, a service that links willing volunteers with community organizations. There she did basic reception, helped prospective volunteers search the database and assisted with youth programs.

At the end of March, Bonin left Ottawa for Canada's far north to spend three months in Whitehorse.

When she arrived, she said, the snow drifts were taller than her, yet three months later the volunteers were sun bathing on the deck in their off hours. By June they were enjoying just over 19 hours of sunlight a day.

In Whitehorse, Bonin worked at the Yukon Arts Centre, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of arts as an important cultural, social and economic force in the Yukon.

Living in a house with nine other youths and having to share a room with five girls taught her to better express her own needs and to listen to others.

Just after arriving in Whitehorse, the group found out the federal government had cut the funding to Katimavik and they would be the last youths able to take advantage of the program, which has been running for more than 30 years.

"It's such a disappointing fact that the program was canceled," she said, adding she would do it again in a heartbeat. "You learn so much."

For more information about the program, and efforts to save it, visit www. katimavik.org.

jkerr@delta-optimist.com