Volunteerism is a large part of the welcoming and peaceful culture which helps define the country of Canada. Whatever your field of interest, volunteering abroad in the Great White North and lending a helping hand to locals will be a rewarding immersive experience in one of the world’s happiest and most progressive countries. Whether volunteering in community development, environmental preservation, or childcare, there are a multitude of opportunities to volunteer in Canada and make memories to last a lifetime.
Canada is the world’s second largest country after Russia. While most of the northern territories remain very sparsely populated, the inhabited ones are highly developed and offer some of the highest standards of living in the world. There are many big cities where it is possible to find voluntary work in Canada, mostly clustered along the southern border, which separates Canada from the United States, and the eastern and western seaboards.
Toronto is Canada’s largest city with over 5 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. It is also the country’s cultural and commercial capital, as well as its most globally oriented city, rated as one of the most livable places in the world.
Nearby to the northeast is Montreal, Canada’s second largest city and the face of French-speaking Canada. Another cultural and economic leader, Montreal was also named a UNESCO City of Design for its beautiful architectural infrastructure.
Far away on the country’s west coast, Vancouver is a vibrant port city which is consistently ranked at the top of the world’s quality of life standards. Nestled in a pristine coastal environment with beautiful natural surroundings, Vancouver is a popular tourist destination for its diverse urban environment and many outdoor adventure opportunities.
Other Canadian cities which are popular for volunteering in Canada include Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. Of course not all volunteer placements in Canada are in major urban areas, and it is also possible to find volunteer work in smaller towns of sparsely populated areas.
Projects & Placements
Many volunteer programs in Canada offer placements in the areas of social work and community building. If your interests lay in such fields as childcare, education, or disability work, then you will find plenty of opportunities for volunteering in Canada within the populated regions.
There are also volunteer abroad programs in Canada which engage dwindling indigenous populations through education and cross cultural interaction. Volunteers can teach indigenous Canadians valuable life and work skill which may improve the quality of living within their communities.
Since so much of Canada remains wild due to sparse population and frigid temperatures, there are also many opportunities for volunteer work in the areas of environmental preservation and wildlife protection. Canada is a heavily forested country with a diverse array of wildlife and ecosystems, especially in the northern areas. However because of logging and human infrastructural expansion many of these areas are in the constant shadow of ecological destruction. This type of voluntary work in Canada may entail conducting research, promoting awareness, or working directly with native species.
Individuals can volunteer in Canada anytime of the year. However, keep in mind that in many places in Canada the winters can be below freezing. While summers are balmy and showcase the great natural beauty of the country, winters are often laden with snow, icy temperatures, and high wind chills. It is certainly possible to brave the cold of winter, though you may want to invest in a parka.
Costs & Affordability
Canada is a highly developed country and one of the wealthiest nations in the world, so do not expect to save much money while volunteering abroad in Canada. Program fees will likely cover the costs of some combination of room, board, and transportation upfront. Once you are in the country, however, expect most prices to be on par with other industrialized nations throughout the world.
Accommodation & Visas
Every volunteer program in Canada will offer different types of accommodation. The most common living arrangements are typically homestays or flats. Homestays are a good way to become close with a local family and experience the fine Canadian hospitality, while living either independently or with roommates in a flat allows for a more autonomous and flexible lifestyle. There are pros and cons to both - consult your program about what housing options are available for volunteers in your specific area of work.
Volunteers from most Western countries will be able to volunteer in Canada for up to six months without obtaining a visa. Volunteers from other countries may have to apply in advance for a visa.
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteering in Canada is a great way to make a positive impact on local communities while experiencing one of the world’s friendliest and most inviting cultures. There is a strong sense of community pervading most regions, and as a volunteer in Canada you will have the chance to join arm in arm with locals working to educate the youth, protect wild habitats, or serve the less fortunate. If you are looking to combine volunteerism with a transformative adventure in a truly beautiful country, you will be hard pressed to find a better option than volunteering abroad in Canada.