You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition–Alan Alda
1) First things First: What is Katimavik? Click Here
2) My Reasons for Choosing Katimavik. (read below)
3) Oh the places I would go: My three communities and beyond. (read below)
4) My Katimavik Group: Randomly selected brothers and sister. Click Here.
5) But what did we do all day? My three wonderful work placements Click Here
2) My Reasons for Choosing Katimavik
At first, my parents didn’t understand. I had obtained an entrance scholarship to York University, I was receiving good grades, I was involved in the York community…why would I want to drop it all for a so-called gap year? I explained again that I needed time to figure myself out, that I didn’t want to go into my second year without any idea of who I was or what I wanted, and that I needed to do something other than sit in front of a pedagogue. That was my official plea.
Off the record, I was really desperate for a change that was big enough to give me some much-needed perspective. You see, even though older people scoff at teens that use the word, I truly felt that I was heart-broken. In the summer after high school, my first love had promised me affection and loyalty and he packed his bags for Carleton University. Long story short: he broke that promise.
It wasn’t so much the pain of the break-up—though that was considerable—it was the fact that I finally realized that I had been putting so much effort into being someone’s girlfriend…I barely knew myself. I wanted to experience something new, different, challenging and to physically distance myself from everything that came before it. Thus, as a wide-eyed 18-year-old, I packed my own bags.
3. Oh The Places I Would Go: My Three Communities and Beyond.
I read the names out loud: Leduc, Alberta. St. Jovite, Quebec. Bathurst, New Brunswick. I hadn’t heard of any of theses places. Smoothing the letter out on my desk, I entered the town names, one by one, into google. I tried to imagine what it would be like to live somewhere other than busy, bustling Toronto.
Over the next nine months I would get to know more than the names of these distant and unfamiliar places. They would become distinct communities with their own unique personalities. I would remember Leduc for the warmth of its inhabitants and for the fact that everyone seemed to know what happened to so-and-so. I’d remember that St. Jovite was officially part of Mt. Tremblant but still held onto its unique persona within a larger maze of tourism. Its main strip looked like the scene from within a snow globe. Bathurst was a city with two voices: half the population spoke English and the other spoke French. It was amazing to cross town and feel as if I’d crossed a border…yet, paradoxically, the town still seemed quite unified.
Thanks to the wonderful tax-paying people of Canada, I would also visit Pigeon Lake, Banff, Jasper, Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Mt. Tremblant, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, Blue Rocks, Lunenburg, Miramichi, Dalhousie, Moncton and Caraquet. Every place would teach me something new about the diversity and majesty of Canada. My group would have to plan and carefully budget for each trip, taking nothing for granted. In our attempts to explain why each venture would teach us something, we actually ended up learning a great deal.
Whether gazing up at the majesty of a mountain or admiring the stillness of the water around a harbour, I learned–with all five of my senses–how very wrong I had been to think Toronto was the coolest part of Canada. I also savoured the beautiful English my fellow Canadians spoke–their accents, whether Quebecois or Nova Scotian, told me entire stories about their pasts. I became aware, in a way that maps could never teach me, that this giant nation we live in is infinitely vast and deeply interesting. Now I want to travel and explore within our borders. At time of writing I only have yet to visit Newfoundland, PEI and the territories. After that, I’ll re-visit every place again. I feel in love with Canada thanks to Katimavik, and there is no looking back.