Christian Paradis reinforces Canada’s commitment to volunteer programs

Christian Paradis, minister of international development and minister for la francophonie, at a press conference on March 6. On Wednesday, Paradis earned praise from the aid community for announcing the long-awaited renewal of three internship and volunteer programs. Photo by: DFATD | MAECD / CC BY-NC-ND

“Ordinary” Canadians have a valuable contribution to make to the lives of those most in need, said Christian Paradis, Canada’s minister of international development and minister for la francophonie.

Paradis on Wednesday reiterated Canada’s more than 20-year commitment to financing international volunteer programs and launched calls for proposals for the International Youth Internship Program, the International Aboriginal Youth Internships Initiative and the Volunteer Cooperation Program.

“Volunteering is one of the most direct ways that Canadians contribute to development efforts,” said Paradis, who delivered the keynote address at the 2014 Joint Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of International Development Professionals and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation in Ottawa, entitled "Redefining Development Partnerships: A New Role for Canadians in Global Equality and Cooperation.”

Paradis, who was appointed to his current position in July 2013, said the department has taken longer than he had hoped to start rolling the calls for proposals out, “but this is because I wanted to get the process right,” he added.

Canada’s newly merged Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development supports 10 volunteer cooperation agencies under the current Volunteer Cooperation Program, which is ongoing until March 31, 2015.

The current program leverages the skills and expertise of more than 9,000 volunteers, including semi-retired professionals, youth and members of diaspora communities in Canada.

Increasing the capacity of developing country partners to deliver sustainable development results and to enhance Canadians' participation in Canada's development efforts, two objectives of the program, are also overarching development goals Paradis stressed on Wednesday.

“I am committed to working with any and all partners that can help us achieve those goals,” he said. “This means choosing the right partner for the right task. Those with the right skill sets to deliver real results for those in need.”

The International Youth Internship Program is part of Canada's Youth Employment Strategy, which provides Canadian youth with tools and experience they need to launch successful careers, while the International Aboriginal Youth Internship Initiative similarly provides work experience for Aboriginal youth with the goal of raising their employability and empowering them to further their education post-internship.

Since 2010, more than 1,500 Canadian youth interns selected under the IYIP and IAYI programs have worked in more than 70 developing countries with local partner organizations to carry out development projects in sectors such as basic education, health and private sector development.

“You are Canada’s face in the world,” Paradis said to those engaged in development during his address. “You bring visibility and recognition to Canada’s development efforts. And you deliver results for those in need.”

Partners and those interested in these calls for proposals can consult the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website for more information.

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  • Kelli Rogers

    Kelli Rogers is an Associate Editor for Devex. Based on the U.S. West Coast, she works with Devex's team of correspondents and editors around the world, with a particular focus on gender. She previously worked as Devex’s Southeast Asia correspondent based in Bangkok, covering disaster and crisis response, resilience, women’s rights, and climate change throughout the region. Prior to that, she reported on social and environmental issues from Nairobi, Kenya. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and has since reported from more than 20 countries.