As a 25-year-old in the 1960s, Keith Spicer helped raised $36,000 to send 16 students to volunteer placements in Asia. He had been travelling through Asia on a pre-doctoral fellowship and had identified a need for volunteers.
It was the humble beginnings of what we know today as Cuso International.
“There were three benefits I could see: One was that we could bring microscopic help to a handful of villages,” Keith said. “Two, we could bring knowledge back to Canada that we didn’t have—this kind of experience just didn’t exist in government at the time. The third was that this could possibly create affinities with kids the same age in other countries so that there would be interlockers who know each other and could build bridges. That’s what we saw from the beginning and that’s what happened.”
The program was later taken over by the Canadian Association of University Presidents and CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas) was officially established.
For Keith, his path lead him to a stellar career in public service and journalism. He was a key figure to important moments in Canada’s history, including chairing the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) and later the Spicer Commission, following the collapse of the Meech Lake Accord.