Alumni and supporters of Katimavik rallied across Canada this weekend in an effort to save the popular youth volunteer program cut in the last federal budget.

Demonstrations held in Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg drew former Katimavik participants and political supporters of the 35-year old program.

Since 1977, Katimavik has sent Canadian youth aged 17 to 21 to live and volunteer in communities across the country.

The program was cancelled in the Conservative government's March 2012 budget.

Its demise is a shame, said Mélanie Parent-Poisson, a 2011 Katimavik volunteer who took part in the Montreal rally on Saturday.

The federal government got good value for its money, which "goes back to a community that really, really needs the help," she said.

The program fosters civic engagement at a critical age, said Andrew Murchison, a program alumnus at the Ottawa rally.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life...my life took a 180 [turn] with the program," he said.

The program, created by Jacques Hébert in 1977, costs about $14 million a year.

Hébert went on a 21-day hunger strike in 1986 after Brian Mulroney's Conservative government cut it.

The Chrétien government reinstated a scaled-down version of Katimavik in 1995.

More than 30,000 Canadians have taken part in the program.

Related on HuffPost:

TWITTER REACTS TO KATIMAVIK CUTS

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  • Althia Raj

  • Andrew Coyne

  • Matthew Conley

  • Aisling Brock

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  • Joe Reid

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  • Alin Sénécal-Harkin

  • Rick

  • Kyle S.

  • Jean-Pierre

  • Marpole Physio

  • Carmen

  • Neil Edmondson

  • Josh Coles

  • David Yazbeck

  • Donald Northrup

  • ChebuctoCommunityNet

  • Olivia Vihant

  • Katimavik

    Ages 17-21, travel across Canada, meet new people, live in new places, find out who you are.

  • Join Katimavik today

    Katimavik offers young Canadians an exciting experience that incorporates learning and volunteer involvement. It is Canada's leading national youth volunteer-service program.During their 9 or 8 months with Katimavik, participants ages 17 to 21 live in three regions of Canada. They are involved in exciting volunteer projects in each community.You're 17 to 21? Apply for the Katimavik program and get ready for the experience of a lifetime! www.Katimavik.org

  • katimavik atlantic: Get A Life

    The Katimavik Spryfield and Halifax houses get together and hit the crowded streets of Halifax, marching, dancing and striking poses. All the while getting out the message: Get A Life! and get involved.

  • Discovery: Katimavik In Maillardville

    In January 2010 a group of Katimavik participants came to Maillardville, a neighborhood in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and did some cool stuff. I followed them around with my camera, documenting their experiences. This video tells thier story.