Whether you're from Halifax, or just settling in, one of the best ways to feel at home in a place is to participate in it. Halifax has a vibrant arts culture, a thriving LGBTQIA community and a significant number of people who are disadvantaged, struggling or oppressed on the daily.
So let's be real: If you're attending a post-secondary institution, you've got a lot more to offer than you think. Sure, crippling debt might face you, but debt itself is a privilege. Some folks can't even get a bank account. On the road to enlightenment (your degree), there are so many ways to enrich the city of Halifax by giving back the community to which you now belong.
A note for the career-minded—if you want to get into med school, law school, politics, environmental sciences or arts and heritage sectors, you better get on the volunteer bus ASAP. There are tons of organizations to choose from, but consider this a head-start.
If you're into music, arts and culture, community campus radio station CKDU provides technical training, opportunities to promote and plan events and the chance to get on-air. Have an idea for a radio show? Take it to CKDU. And while you're there, ask about the annual Halifax Pop Explosion (October 21-25).
"HPX wouldn't be the renowned festival it is today without the help of its fantastic volunteers," says volunteer coordinator Jeremy MacNeil. Volunteers can staff venues, do merch sales, door entries and box offices, plus HPX offers volunteers show tickets for their time. You'll meet cool musicians, visual artists, important industry folks and music fans. A no-brainer, TBH.
If you're more into activism and social politics, Halifax's LGBTQIA community always needs a hand. From the Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia to Halifax Pride, LGBTQIA issues take on a range of nuances in the fight against classism, misogyny and homophobia. The Don't Be Afraid campaign needs people to engage in all areas of the city, and help raise awareness.
Plus, Halifax city council takes volunteer applications for a number of advisory boards, ranging in topics like heritage and development, large and small scale events and city planning.
Unfortunately, you'll find Halifax harbours gross inequities for people of colour, people below the poverty line and people facing mental and physical illnesses, evidenced by the large number of non-profit organizations dedicated to alleviating these issues. All of these places need your time, or household and food supplies, to keep operating: Laing House, Hope Cottage, Byrony House, The Parker Street Food Bank, Saint George's YouthNet, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halifax, The ARK Halifax, Halifax Public Libraries, Frontier College and women's centres on many campuses.
For more information, halifaxpubliclibraries.ca and halifax.ca offer comprehensive lists of local non-profits that welcome volunteers in all capacities for all areas of social need. Injustice comes in all forms and volunteering is one way to help reduce its impact.
Wherever and however you volunteer your time, it will always be valued and appreciated.