Published: December 3, 2020
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA: International Volunteer Day 2020 (IVD2020) – officially marked on Dec. 5 – was named by the United Nations in 1985 to celebrate volunteers and organizations working towards sustainable development locally, nationally, and globally.
The long name for the event is International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development.
Source: International Volunteer Day event aims to connect East Coast residents virtually Dec. 4 | The Chronicle Herald
Based in Halifax, the staff at the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC) is inviting the public to help celebrate IVD2020 with them, virtually, on Dec. 4.
“International Volunteer Day is going to look different this year,” said Raushni Abraham, communications officer with ACIC, noting the effect of COVID-19.
“We usually do in-person events. Last year, in 2019, we organized a photo contest that showcased the work of six Nova Scotia-based photographers, who displayed their interpretation [of] what international volunteering means to them.”
This year, public health restrictions related to COVID-19 not only determined how the celebration would be broadcast but also inspired the theme for IVD2020.
“This year, we wanted to focus on how volunteering is changing, especially in the pandemic context,” he explained. “We have eighteen volunteer photojournalists from the four Atlantic provinces working with us for the event.”
The idea is for the volunteers to tell stories with photos about volunteering, particularly volunteering that helps support at least one of the U.N.’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) – for example, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production, or zero hunger.
Abraham said the volunteers will present the gallery during the IVD2020 event on Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. AST. The celebration will kick off with the curated display, then pause for some volunteer-trivia – there are prizes – and conclude with break-out room discussions. Abraham thinks putting aside 90 minutes for the event should be plenty.
The event is important, said Abraham.
“In Atlantic Canada, so many volunteers identify with the global world and the development sector,” he said. “(They) give back to their world. I think that should be appreciated and celebrated.”
Registration to the event is free and open to anyone with an internet connection.
About the coalition
“The ACIC,” explained Abraham, “is a coalition of members – individuals, organizations, and institutions – in the Atlantic region. Together, the members work on building a sustainable world. They share knowledge…and work on projects.”
To support the coalition, ACIC organizes a yearly symposium to provide the opportunity for ACIC members to meet in person and share experiences, research, and accomplishments. The 2020 virtual symposium was held in October.
Abraham noted that participants might not have had “as in-depth conversations as they might have had” if they were in person, but that more people participated in the symposium.
“We [enlisted] speakers we could not have [before], to speak to our Atlantic members and audience,” Abraham pointed out. “More people attended the event than before, and the recordings are still being shared.”
In addition to annual events, Abraham said ACIC offers virtual programs. One currently underway is PhotoVoices, a virtual space in which participants share life experiences using photos. This program is for 20- to 28-year-olds living in Atlantic Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, or Guyana.
“[The participants] have some really cool photos and reflections to share, [living] as youth in the world,” added Abraham.
Abraham further highlighted the Indigenous Global Leadership Program designed for Indigenous youth between 18 and 35 years old. Bringing together Indigenous youth from across Canada to learn leadership skills and gain experience, the virtual program runs from January to February (2021) with an intro session in December (2020).
Programs are free of charge and some provide an honorarium for participants who fulfill completion requirements.
To sign up for programs, get more information, go to acic-caci.org.