Strengthening Youth Opportunities: Canada and Finland Ink Youth Mobility Pact
The Government of Canada stays steadfast in its commitment to nurture international relations and opportunities for youth. With an unwavering focus on the future, Canada continues to foster an environment that encourages cross-cultural understanding and friendship among young people worldwide.
On the 19th of May, 2023, a milestone event took place in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Representing the Government of Canada, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, joined His Excellency Roy Eriksson, Ambassador of the Republic of Finland to Canada, to make a landmark announcement. The Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement was officially unveiled, promising a vibrant future of shared opportunities for the youth of both nations.
Crafting the Path for Youth Mobility
Set to come into effect in 2024, this groundbreaking agreement is a testament to the mutual respect and cooperation shared by Canada and Finland. It opens up a world of opportunities for Canadian and Finnish youth aged 18 to 35, empowering them to travel, live, and work in each other’s countries under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program or its Finnish counterpart.
The IEC program is segmented into three distinct categories: Working Holiday, International Co-op (internship), and Young Professionals. The newly signed agreement offers youth the flexibility to participate in each of these categories for up to 12 months, enhancing their international exposure and professional development.
A Testament to Strong Bilateral Relations
This youth mobility agreement further solidifies the excellent bilateral relations between Canada and Finland. Having celebrated 75 years of formal diplomatic relations in 2022, the two countries continue to build upon the strong ties that bind them. The shared values and deep social connections between Canada and Finland serve as a robust foundation for this new phase of collaboration. The IEC program is an effective platform for Canadian and Finnish youth, including Francophone and Indigenous youth, to immerse themselves in new cultures, sharpen life skills, improve their career prospects, and deepen their social bonds.
Voices of Optimism
The announcement of the Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement was met with positive responses from key figures. The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, noted, “This is an exciting day for young people in Canada and Finland. The signing of this youth mobility agreement means that it will be easier for Canadian youth to travel and work in Finland. For Finnish youth, this agreement will improve their access to jobs in Canada and provide them with opportunities to experience what our great country has to offer.”
The Honourable Tuula Haatainen, Minister of Employment, Republic of Finland, also expressed her enthusiasm: “We are happy to welcome the youth mobility agreement, which deepens the ties between our already close countries. The youth of both Finland and Canada will have even more opportunities to travel, work abroad, and learn of each other’s cultures in the future.”
Key Facts at a Glance
- The International Experience Canada (IEC) is a reciprocal program that fosters youth mobility between Canada and other countries.
- The Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement will be officially implemented upon ratification by both nations.
- Canada now holds youth mobility agreements with 36 countries and territories, including Finland.
- For the 2023 season, Canada is extending the IEC opportunity to nearly 90,000 international youth, aiding Canadian employers in filling labour shortages across the country.
- Over 240,000 Canadians have participated in the IEC program since 2008, returning with transformative experiences that have enriched their personal and professional lives.
- Youth looking for assistance with their IEC experience can turn to recognized organizations – typically youth service organizations offering work and travel support.
Enriching the Cultural Tapestry
The Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the cultural fabric of many regions, including Thunder Bay. The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, underscored the cultural significance of the agreement. She highlighted how generations of Finns have shaped the culture of Thunder Bay and its surroundings, contributing to local communities in myriad ways. This agreement will allow the youth of diverse backgrounds from all over Canada to learn from each other, thereby strengthening ties between the two countries.
A New Chapter for Thunder Bay and Rainy River
This initiative is particularly impactful for the youth of Thunder Bay and Rainy River. Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, emphasized the transformative potential of the International Experience Canada program. According to him, it can open doors to new perspectives, skills, and connections that will serve young people well throughout their lives. Furthermore, it will foster opportunities to savour the culinary delights of Finland, such as Mojakka, a traditional Finnish stew, enriching their cultural experiences.
Expanding Global Connections
With the addition of Finland, Canada now holds youth mobility agreements with 36 countries and territories. This latest accord underscores Canada’s commitment to expanding global connections and opportunities for its youth. The 2023 season will witness Canada extending this opportunity to nearly 90,000 international youth, a step that will aid Canadian employers in filling labour shortages across the country.
The Impact of International Experience Canada
Since its inception in 2008, the International Experience Canada program has seen more than 240,000 Canadians participate and return with life-changing experiences. These experiences have proven valuable not just for personal growth, but also for professional development. As part of the support system for the youth planning their IEC experience, several recognized organizations offer work and travel support. These organizations range from non-profit to for-profit, as well as educational institutions.
An Homage to Shared Heritage
Canada’s multicultural heritage is a testament to its welcoming nature. The 2021 Census revealed that 144,055 Canadians are of Finnish descent, which underscores the deep-rooted connections between the two countries. This youth mobility agreement serves not only as an homage to these shared cultural ties but also as a pathway to strengthen them further.
The Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement is a beacon of hope and opportunity for the youth of both nations. It promises new horizons of cultural immersion, professional growth, and international friendship. As the agreement comes into force in 2024, the world will watch as a new generation of global citizens emerges, ready to contribute to their communities, countries, and the world at large123.