I first read this book before participating in Katimavik (but after I'd been accepted) and I absolutely loved it. Of course, the program in the 80s was a bit different than it was when I participated in the 2000s, but the backbone and soul of the program was all there. This book cemented my desire to participate, and I would often read through it when the excitement of my impending departure was too much to bear.
Quite surprisingly, the book had A LOT of similarities to my actual experience, including the order of placements (I started in the same city, Kelowna, BC, before moving on to Ontario and Quebec). Re-reading the book while in the program, I was literally able to live the first section of the book in Kelowna, although the city had grown a bit since the author had lived there. It was like stepping into a favourite book. I could also see my group mates and project leaders in the characters and recognize the little things that someone who wasn't in the program just wouldn't "get." Soon my group mates all wanted to read it, and we laughed over the similarities and discussed the differences.
Now that I've been an alumni of the program for nearly 5 years, I use this book as a way to reflect on it all: my expectations, my experience and my life following this amazing opportunity that I had (which I am still gushing about half a decade later!). The program has changed a lot in the last few years, and I feel this book serves as a reminder of "the good old days," which is another reason I'm bummed that it is out of print. I believe if Canadian politicians could hear this story, my story and the story of the thousands of young people who grew into amazing adults because of Katimavik, the program could thrive once more and return to these incredible roots where anybody can take off and travel and learn about themselves and others without having to pay hefty fees and go through lengthy application processes.
Will Ferguson truly captures the spirit of what it means to be a young person looking for adventure and a place to belong in this vast country and I thank him so much for it.
eBook I Was a Teenage Katima-Victim