The Adventures in Citizenship Program is a program put on by the Rotary Club of Ottawa. Rotary clubs from around the country send one or two members to this national conference.
Zach Muttart, a graduating senior from Kinkora Regional High School, recently returned from participating in this program and spoke to Summerside Rotarians about the experience.
“The purpose of this conference is so young Canadians can figure out what it means to them to be a Canadian citizen,” Muttart said. “At the same time, we, as Canadians, learn about what makes Canada, Canada. Essentially, how the political system operates, the national treasures that we have and it gives us a real sense of pride being a Canadian citizen.”
One thing that stands out through the conference is the diversity of the Canadian population.
“There were a lot of young people of many ethnicities and many cultures,” Muttart said. “Some of them were first generation Canadians and some do not even have their own Canadian citizenship yet. This multitude of differences amongst us attending this conference really gave everybody who attended a sense of Canadian multiculturalism. It really was a profound experience.”
There were about 220 youths attending the citizenship conference.
Muttart said one of the first speakers they heard was Ryan Hreljac, a 21-year-old from Nova Scotia. He started his own charity organization at the age of six.
“He started collecting money to build wells for underdeveloped communities in Africa,” Muttart. The message he left us was that he is an activist but not a world famous activist.
The message he wanted us to know is that you do not have to be somebody big and famous to make a difference,” he said. “That was a very lasting impression he gave all of us.”
The Adventures in Citizenship Program falls under a category known as a national news forum and Muttart was able to attend two other youth forums at the national level — the Canadian Student Leadership Conference in Corner Brook, Nfld., earlier in September; and in mid-April, the Encounters of Canada Politics Week at the Terry Fox Youth Centre.
“Once a young person goes to these conferences or these forums they’re hooked right away,” he said. “When I was in Ottawa, I met people who I had met at other conferences and I even met a few other (Air) cadets that I will have the pleasure of working with this summer.”