The 'Mooring' of Rural Canada: Youth Volunteerism in Fragile Communities

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Eisenbach, Kristina E
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University of Guelph

Over the past several decades, rural Canada has found itself in the throes of a demographic crisis, having lost significant portions of its young population to urbanized centres. Rural population loss affects not only the life-trajectories of youth migrants themselves, but also the vitality of communities that harbour them. Sadly, research examining rural populations in Canada has tended to focus on economic disadvantage as the prime motivator for youth migration. Little attention has been granted to local social and relational processes which undoubtedly have had great effect on youths' perceptions of their hometowns, and their sentiments regarding migration. This research is intended to draw attention to the ways that rural youth may be socially engaged, fostered and ultimately retained within their home communities, and will illustrate the ways in which community involvement, through the forums of 4-H and Junior Farmers clubs, may serve to ‘moor’ young people in rural areas.

rural, youth, civic engagement, volunteering, social capital, 4-H Ontario, Junior Farmers' Association of Ontario