Join us for our 2023 Annual General Meeting

Join us for our 2023 Annual General Meeting

Youth Ottawa’s Annual General Meeting will held on January 24th, 2023 from 6-8 PM at 90 Spark Street on the 2nd floor. 
Want to hear about what we accomplished in 2023 and where were headed this year? Share some thoughts or feedback? Join us! Public and open to all.
If you would like to attend or be added to the speakers list please email [email protected] to RSVP. Please RSVP before December 6th at 5PM.

Empowering Tomorrow: How do we Support Youth Entrepreneurship?

Empower Tomorrow's Entrepreneurs

This Giving Tuesday, help us empower Ottawa’s future. Donate today to help support youth entrepreneurship programs.

Throughout this month, Youth Ottawa has been dedicated to showcasing the transformative influence of youth entrepreneurship in action. We have taken a dive into the problems and challenges faced by aspiring young entrepreneurs and have told the story of thriving young business leaders in Ottawa working for the community.  We have seen that entrepreneurship has a powerful role in driving economic growth, fostering innovative solutions, and positively impacting the empowerment of young individuals. For the past 25 years, we have been committed to supporting the youth in our city, providing opportunities for them to learn and grow through hands-on experience and experiential learning.

Empowering Tomorrow

How do we Support Youth Entrepreneurship?

This Giving Tuesday, you are invited to explore the programs we deliver to support our future entrepreneurs. These initiatives are designed to equip youth with the knowledge and experience necessary to enhance their leadership, confidence, and entrepreneurial skills. Join us by supporting our programs and empower youth to achieve success. Keep reading to jump into our organization’s vision to support young entrepreneurs in creating a better tomorrow.

Guiding the next generation: The power of mentorship in youth entrepreneurship.

Mentorship is an important part of helping young entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Successful individuals often have a network of experience they can look to for advice and guidance. Youth have great ideas but often lack the infrastructure to mobilize their dreams into reality. Mentorship offers youth hands-on involvement, helps navigate challenges faced by entrepreneurs, and transfers experiential-based knowledge and essential skills needed to build a strong foundation for success. It is an essential element in fostering growth and building connections.

 At Youth Ottawa, we stand behind the value of mentorship, and tailor our entrepreneur focused programs to deliver business development training and provide access to seasoned entrepreneurs. Additionally, by enhancing networking opportunities youth can communicate, connect, and collaborate with individuals sharing the same passions, interests, and goals.  By fostering connections, we empower youth to engage and collaborate with like-minded individuals, amplifying their potential for growth and success.

Our Programs Help Build Entrepreneurs

We are excited for the future of our ambitious young business community but understand that dreams and great ideas need support. To respond to this growing need, we developed two engaging programs, the Summer Amplified Fellowship, and the Social Enterprise Program. These two programs are designed with leadership and entrepreneurship in mind.


What is the Summer
Amplified Fellowship?

In 2019, the passion of youth entrepreneurs inspired us to launch the Summer Amplified Fellowship. This program is designed to amplify the entrepreneurial projects of youth by offering business development training, mentorship, and networking. We hire youth to work for themselves for 8 weeks during the summer. They have the opportunity to grow their ideas into sustainable enterprises and develop their entrepreneurial experience. The program covers several topics of business development such as Human- Centered Design, Business Design Thinking, Empathy Mapping, Building Customer Personas, funding paths, grant writing, partnership acquisition, networking and public speaking, impact Reporting, Branding, Marketing and Sales. Youth can support one another and learn together uniquely. 

About the Social
Enterprise Program

The Social Enterprise Program (SEP) allows students to explore career interests through social enterprise development. By activating a combination of innovation, collaboration and global awareness and drawing on their pre-existing academic skills students are asked to innovate and solve challenges presented by community organizations. Employing diverse and experienced young social entrepreneurs from Youth Ottawa’s Amplified Fellowship, the SEP adopts a “for-youth-by-youth” model where students are mentored by role models who already have experience with social enterprise development. The program bridges the gap between the classroom and community outreach  and allows students to explore socially minded business practices and the positive impacts they can achieve.

Program Impact

Many success stories have made their way through our programs and we could not be more excited to continue growing to include more youth! Most recently, Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo, a Fellow from our 2022 Summer Amplified Cohort, launched The Novas Group, a consulting firm focused on brand development. As an accomplished business leader, he recently took home The Youth Immigrant Entrepreneur Award 2023 from TiE Ottawa.

Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo accepting his TiE Award.

This month, Hot Shoe Productions, a youth-led film production company that began with the support of Youth Ottawa in 2018, won Best Performance in Social Entrepreneurship at the Best Ottawa Business Awards hosted by the Ottawa Business Journal. 

The Hot Shoe Productions Team at the Best Ottawa Business Awards.

These young change-makers have already come so far, and it’s only the beginning! Providing opportunities that support entrepreneurship makes a difference in our community, it can give youth the boost they need to spearhead great successes in the future.  This Giving Tuesday, help us support youth with their entrepreneurial goals, so they can continue to build a better tomorrow.  

Our Hope for the Future: How can you support?

Each contribution you make this Giving Tuesday will go directly to the cost of operatating our SEP (Social Enterprise Program) in the community and expanding the program for March Break next year. We will also use the funds raised to expand our Summer Amplified Fellowship program to increase the amount of youth who can access the program. Last summer the program saw two youth participate and continue to build their social enterprises with the help of Youth Ottawa. We would like to add more participants this summer and build back to our pre-Covid numbers. 

Let’s take a peek at how your support can bring these programs to life:

1.In the Classroom: An Incubator for Social Enterprise

Our journey starts in the classroom, where the seed of social entrepreneurship is planted. For just $2,000 per classroom, we can introduce students to the world of business with a social conscience. 

2.Community- Based Learning: Nurturing Dreams in Shared Spaces

Beyond the school walls, our community-based program brings entrepreneurship into local neighbourhoods. It takes $1,500 to set this stage, plus an additional $250 for each youth who joins.

3.Summer Amplified Fellowship: A Journey of Self-Discovery

During the SAF program, young entrepreneurs are not just learning, they’re earning. At $6,800 per participant, this program is an investment in their future. For 8 weeks, youth work for themselves, turning their ideas into reality.  

The Impact of Your Support - Donate Today!

Youth entrepreneurs are a powerful force ready to create a better future filled with economic prosperity, innovation, bright ideas, and socially conscious business ventures. Our exploration of the entrepreneurial pathway for youth shows us that positive change is never easy.  It is our responsibility to guide the builders of tomorrow to help them become the visionary leaders we know they can be. The youth of our city have the drive, potential, creativity, and work ethic needed for success. Support our programs this Giving Tuesday and help us provide opportunities, so that young entrepreneurs can achieve their success stories. Let’s continue to empower, educate, and elevate these young minds together. 

 Entrepreneurial Spotlight: Lights, Camera, Action with Hot Shoe Productions.

This month, we invite you to get to know the power and promise that young entrepreneurs bring to our beautiful city of Ottawa. In our
latest blog we explored the positive impact  young entrepreneurs have and the challenges they face,  in need of support to build a better future. Now, it’s time to take a closer look at youth in action. Read on ahead to discover the success story of a young social enterprise making things happen! 

Lights, Camera,Youth in Action

Hot Shoe Productions & the Power of Youth Entrepreneurship.

Welcome to the dynamic world of Hot Shoe Productions, a social enterprise launched with the support of Youth Ottawa, where the fusion of dedication, talent, and drive ignites a unique spark. Picture this: a highly successful video and photography company, entirely shaped by the passion and creativity of our youth. What began as a pilot program in 2015 to expand youth talent and skills in videography, has since-rebranded and transformed to become a successful video and photography business.
Inspired by the people of this city, this social enterprise tells community stories through a completely youth-led lens. 

A Snapshot of Hot Shoe History

It has always been challenging for a traditional model of education to suit the learning styles and interests of all  to prepare students for future career opportunities. Many creative steps forward have been taken by the education sector in identifying diverse ways in which students can be actively engaged in the classroom. In 2015, our team at Youth Ottawa stepped up to the plate and launched our Youth Active Media Program. The program was developed to teach youth digital literacy skills through the art of filmmaking. By offering training, equipment, and a hands-on learning approach, students are encouraged to create independent projects about community issues that matter to them. The program was first launched with the support of the Trillium Foundation and later a partnership formed with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, it continues in classrooms today. 

The success of the Youth Active Media program found a new pathway to support youth in 2017, when in partnership, The Social Planning Council and Youth Ottawa proposed to advance the established videography program into a social enterprise, with the help of a grant awarded to them by the Ottawa Community Foundation. With the support of nonprofits and the community, Hot Shoe Productions was born in June of 2018. Now, young people that have completed  the Youth Active Media program, have the chance to continue a career in working to build and progress a sustainable business. Since its humble beginnings, Hot Shoe has grown to new heights, and has expanded its business, support for youth, and community reach  in unimaginable ways. 

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Entrepreneurs at work: Hot Shoe Today

Today, Hot Shoe Productions continues to deliver their high quality professional services to a variety of notable clients, including RBC, The United Way of East Ontario, and Shopify. Diving into proposals big and small, Hot Shoe treats every project as a work of art, tailoring a vibrant narrative to encompass the client’s story by adding the zest of youth innovation. Throughout their years of experience they have learned to become better business leaders and continue to be youth led in all aspects of their enterprise.

Being an impactful community focused business is at the heart of Hot Shoe Productions and drives their entrepreneurial vision forward. Through the enterprise, Hot Shoe has produced creative projects aimed at informing the community about the wonderful non-profit work in the city. They have worked on projects for organizations like JA (Junior Achievement) Ottawa, which works to deliver hands-on learning experiences in the area of entrepreneurship, Causeway Work Centre, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with mental illness and other challenges find meaningful work, and the Innovators and Entrepreneurs Foundation, a charity that supports Canadian entrepreneurs from racialized and equity deserving communities. 

Hot Shoe has continued to mobilize their team to lead mentorship in schools through the ongoing delivery of the Youth Active Media Program in partnership with the OCDSB. The team members are passionate about teaching the program that gave many of them their start in the industry. Leading by example, they allow students to see that young people can achieve amazing things with their talents, hard work, and confidence. They have also worked on organizing and delivering film camps to students of younger demographics, most recently working with the Kanata Montessori School, to help youth discover the power of creative expression.

One of the most important aspects of their business is the passion for supporting and working with other young creatives and business leaders in the Ottawa community. They work collectively toward fostering and empowering the next generation of thought leaders and the new ventures they bring to the entrepreneurial tapestry of Ottawa. Most recently, they created a promotional launch video for the Novas Group,a youth led, one-stop shop brand development company that specializes in design, consulting, and media.

Learn more about Hot Shoe’s entrepreneurial experience:

Meet the Young Social Entrepreneurs behind Hot Shoe Productions

Ben Bergeron (he/him), Creative Director

“My favorite thing about working at Hot Shoe Productions is the valuable mentorship I am able to provide to a diverse population of young people. Through the program, I have been able to support the passion and careers of dozens of youth with an interest in the media industry, all while amplifying the valuable work of businesses and nonprofits throughout the city.”

Bryanna Kearney (she/her), Post Production Supervisor

“The thing I like most about working at Hot Shoe is being able to do something I enjoy as a career. I am also really thankful for all the great people I have had a chance to work with and learn from.

My favorite thing about being an entrepreneur is being able to decide how I want my career to look. I like being able to decide the kind of work that I do, and the way that I want to do it.”

Wendley Pierre (he/him), Senior Photographer & Social Media Manager.

“Working at Hot Shoe has helped me build a strong business background. I get to focus on what I am passionate about and grow my own brand -Through my Lens.

I have the opportunity to do what I love. It’s different from clocking in at the restaurant loading up to do something vs. loving what you do.”

Colin Ziraldo (he/him), Lead Cinematographer & Technical Producer

“The most rewarding aspect of Hot Shoe Productions is the incredible company culture we’ve fostered. The teams are immensely passionate and skilled individuals, and collaborating with them daily is a genuine pleasure. I strongly believe that Hot Shoe Productions plays a pivotal role in nurturing the next generation of filmmakers, photographers, and video producers.”

The Exceptional Team also Includes:

Somya Goomer (she/her), Audio Engineer
Justin Scriver (they/them), Post Production Supervisor
Vanna Noun (he/him), Community Outreach Coordinator & Lead Videographer

Join Us in Empowering Young Entrepreneurs this Giving Tuesday

With successful organizations like Hot Shoe Productions, it’s clear why supporting young entrepreneurs is vital. This team, started by Youth Ottawa, showcases what young talent can achieve with the right support. They’ve not only built a successful business but also inspired their peers in Ottawa and beyond. 

This Giving Tuesday, we invite you to support youth entrepreneurs in two impactful ways:

First, consider contributing to our Giving Tuesday campaign. Your financial support will empower programs like Youth Active Media, which has been instrumental in the growth of initiatives like Hot Shoe Productions. Your donation helps provide resources, training and opportunities to more young entrepreneurs fostering innovation and creativity. 

Secondly, you have a unique opportunity to support Hot Shoe Productions directly. By hiring them for your videography needs, you’re not just getting high-quality services, you’re also providing real-world experiences and growth opportunities for talented young creators. Every project they undertake not only showcases their skills but also furthers their professional developments. 

This Giving Tuesday, let’s stand behind young entrepreneurs. Whether through a donation to our campaign or by engaging Hot Shoe for your next project, your support can make a big impact. Together, we can fuel the passion and potential of entrepreneurs, one project at a time.

Help us Support Young Entrepreneurs.

Empowering Tomorrow’s Innovators: Understanding the Landscape of Youth Entrepreneurship

Empowering Tomorrow’s Innovators

Understanding the Landscape of Youth Entrepreneurship

Do you remember setting up your first lemonade stand? Or the time you and your friend made crafts to sell to friends and family? Maybe you even had the brilliant idea to create hand drawn signs to eagerly offer services like dog walking, shoveling snow, and mowing the lawns in your neighborhood. 

These childhood ventures are more than just fond memories–they are the seeds of entrepreneurship. They demonstrate the raw potential for innovation that we at Youth Ottawa are passionate about cultivating in today’s youth.

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Taking the entrepreneurial leap allows people to merge  passions and interests with  work. According to a 2023 RBC Small Business Poll, a
growing number of Canadians are turning to entrepreneurship to pursue this career lifestyle. This trend includes young entrepreneurs as well, with 8 in 10 young Canadians aspiring to entrepreneurship to shape the career they desire, as revealed by a 2023 IPSOS poll on Canadian Entrepreneurship. A goal also on the rise among Gen Z, driven by changing attitudes towards the post-pandemic work culture and technological innovation. Yet, despite their enthusiasm and innovative ideas, young Canadians make up just 1.7% of Canada’s entrepreneurial landscape. This disparity points to a pressing issue: a vast pool of potential is being overlooked. 

The Challenges of Youth Entrepreneurship

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The economic impact of entrepreneurs is undeniable–small businesses employ a substantial portion of the workforce. According to Statistic Canada, businesses with 1-99 employees make up 98% of all employer businesses in Canada, and employ 63% of the workforce. Yet, it’s not just about numbers; it’s about the fresh energy and perspectives that young entrepreneurs bring to the table. Their unique outlook and innovative approaches will inherit and transform the small business sector and job creation. 

However, the path for these aspiring young business owners is filled with challenges. Young people today face balancing education and work in a world marked by rising inflation rates and stagnant wages. They carry more debt and have limited financial support, which hinders their ability to pursue entrepreneurial dreams.

According to an RBC Economic report (2018), 80% of young business owners relied on donations and gifts to sustain their businesses. 

While it is true that Gen Z is ready to harness technological revolutions pioneered by previous generations to shape our economic future, being tech-savvy is just one part of the equation. Growing businesses today have many benefits thanks to tech advancements in AI, social media, data analytics, and e-commerce. Nevertheless, to truly empower entrepreneurship, youth need support in utilizing these new technologies for sustainable business, particularly in social enterprises. The United Nations’ recent report on Youth Social Entrepreneurship emphasizes the importance of aiding young people in identifying, adopting, and commercializing technologies for career growth. Taking full advantage of higher levels of youth engagement in the digital space requires that young people have support in adapting new technologies to business development.

Youth Belong in Entrepreneurial Spaces

The People of Tomorrow founder, Sallysha Vital leading a presentation during our Summer Amplified Program 2023

We believe in the transformative power of young entrepreneurs to create a lasting impact. We see it in the success stories from our community, where young individuals are leading the charge and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in business. Young entrepreneurs like Mallorie Bordie & Lauren Lake, founders of Bridgit, a successfully innovative Canadian construction company, and Kerin John, founder of Black Owned Toronto, are a testament to what youth are capable of. In our city of Ottawa, youth enterprises like Hot Shoe Productions, a youth-led media production company and the Novas Group, a venture creation firm, are pushing the boundaries of entrepreneurship and are here to succeed. It is our responsibility as a community to support youth to empower the future.

Hot Shoe Production team members

Join us in Supporting Young Innovators

Youth Entrepreneurs need support to build the future. We understand this need deeply and are committed to providing young entrepreneurs with the help they need to overcome barriers, through mentorship, resources, and a community that believes in their potential.

Our mission is to transform the 1.7% into a figure that truly reflects the capabilities and aspirations of Canada’s youth

A large part of encouraging innovation is to create an environment that fosters experiential learning to support current educational practices. At Youth Ottawa our programs focus on the importance of marrying technological know-how with sustainable business practices. Our aim is to guide young entrepreneurs towards creating ventures that are not only profitable but also beneficial to society. 

With the giving season around the corner, we’re highlighting the importance of investing in the entrepreneurial spirit of our youth. By subscribing to our updates, you’ll get to follow the story of how we helped kick start a youth-led social enterprise and see the impact of what youth entrepreneurship can bring to our community. 

Together, let’s empower young entrepreneurs to turn lemons into lemonade!

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Key Conversations: Youth and Adults Unite to Address Youth Mental Health, Addictions, and Substance Use Care in the Community


Key Conversations

Youth and Adults Unite to Address Youth Mental Health, Addictions, and Substance Use Care in the Community

Youth Ottawa and the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee recently partnered alongside multiple community organizations to learn more about Youth Mental health. United Way East Ontario, Ottawa Public Health, CHEO’s YouthNet/RéseauAdo, Ottawa Youth and Child Initiative, and Project Step all came together with youth voices from the city of Ottawa at the Rideau Community Hub, for a conversation focused on Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Health.

Why Mental Health Matters

Data from the Canadian Institute for Health expresses the need for these collaborative efforts. According to CIHC research  mental health disorders affect 20% of children and youth in Canada. Notably, statistics from 2020 demonstrated that one in four hospitalizations among youth aged 5-24 were linked to mental health conditions.

Research affirms that Youth Mental Health needs attention in our city. Key findings from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey 2021 by Ottawa Public Health demonstrate that 2 in 5 Ottawa students in grades 7-12 reported poor or fair mental health (44%). As well as some wanting to talk to someone but not knowing where to turn (42%). The shared commitment to enhance mental health and substance use health services resonates with these facts and remains a top priority for youth and key stakeholders in Ottawa.

It Takes Community

It began with presentations by adult and youth community leaders, each of whom brought unique experiences and insights to the conversation.

Daniel Bersyniow, a member of OYEC and a Health Science student at the University of Ottawa, elaborated on the importance of embracing creativity and thinking outside the box to empower sustainable solutions. Harpreet Grewal, representing Ottawa Public Health, shared invaluable data from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). Additionally, Iman Shamraiz, a psychology student at the University Ottawa and youth representative of YouthNet’s Youth Advisory Committee, provided insights into common adult perceptions regarding youth mental health.

Daniel Bersyniow
Harpreet Grewal
Iman Shamraiz

Smaller group discussions guided by thought-provoking questions took place throughout the evening. All groups focused on gaining a collective understanding through shared knowledge and expressed opinions. The discussion topics included, exploring the definition of wellness,  getting to know support and resources, terminology, envisioned outcomes, and incorporating personal or professional experiences. Each group recorded their answers, and later, all attendees reconvened in open discussion to share their group’s takeaways.

Emerging Conversations

1. The de-stigmatization of Mental Health. 

2.The identification of gaps in mental health and substance use services in Ottawa.

3. Addressing wait-times and opportunities for youth- to- adult healthcare transitions.

4. Implementing collaborative structures within organizations that support inter-provider  communication.

5. Addressing the challenges faced by youth residing in remote areas.

6. Examining mental health equity.

7. The importance of youth and family engagement.

8. Improved workplace training.

9. Learning about mental health resources available to youth in Ottawa.

10. Exploring how patient needs can be addressed by first contact to counter critical mental health emergencies. 

Photos by Wendley Pierre- Hotshoe Productions

Moving Forward: Transforming Words into Actions

Partners were able to acknowledge the commendable efforts of numerous Ottawa youth and organizations dedicated to reshaping the landscape of Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Health. A comprehensive summary report will be prepared and shared with all participants and partner organizations. The insights gained from this event will play an important  role in guiding actionable steps toward improving the mental health and substance use well-being of Ottawa’s youth.

This continuous dialogue underlines the unwavering dedication of the community to empower Ottawa’s youth and lay the foundation for a brighter and healthier future for the next generation.

Stay Connected.

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Youth Voices, Civic Choices: Explore the Impactful Initiatives of the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee

Youth Voices, Civic Choices

Explore the Impactful Initiatives of the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee

The Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee (OYEC) is a dynamic group of passionate young individuals and community leaders who have joined hands with the City of Ottawa to effect positive change for the youth population. Their efforts are dedicated to shaping official decisions and enhancing outreach initiatives that will make Ottawa an even better place for youth. OYEC has recently introduced some new initiatives, we’ve highlighted them below!

The Middle Ground Project: A Seat at the Table

Central to OYEC’s mission is the Middle Ground Project, a platform designed to amplify the voices of young individuals on issues they are deeply passionate about. The project serves as a roundtable discussion, bringing together youth, individuals directly impacted by the topic under consideration, and individuals with diverse knowledge relevant to the subject. In OYEC’s first ever roundtable, the committee delved into the pressing issue of food insecurity and featured thought-provoking dialogue from guests Fatimah Karim and Mathilde Doucet, who brought their unique insights to the discussion. Additionally, OYEC representative Rehani contributed the committee’s perspective. 

Consultations with the City of Ottawa: Collaborative Decision-Making

In addition to the middle ground project roundtable discussions, the committee has actively conducted consultation sessions with various branches of the City of Ottawa, facilitating a direct line of communication between youth and decision-makers. Notable consultations have been carried out with the Anti-Racism, Women & Gender Equity Branch, and the Climate Change Branch.

During these consultations, key figures like Pei-Ju Wang involved with the city’s Anti-Racism strategy and Sharzad Gharabaghi & Emma Langham from the Climate Crisis department have shared valuable insights. Pei-Ju Wang highlighted the city’s Anti-racism strategy plan, while Gharabaghi and Langham led discussions on the climate resilience strategy plan. These consultations serve as a bridge, fostering understanding and collaboration between youth and city departments, resulting in informed decision-making that better addresses the concerns of young residents.

Sub-Committees in Action: Addressing Crucial Issues

OYEC’s sub-committees are tirelessly working on initiatives that directly impact the youth of Ottawa:

  • The Mental Health Subcommittee is partnering with United Way and Ottawa Public Health to organize a crucial conversation on “Youth Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Addiction.” Their initiatives include listening tables, focus groups, and engagement with organizations like the Rural Mental Health Collective and YNRA YAC.
  • The Human Rights Subcommittee collaborates on the Middle Ground Media Project alongside other sub-committees.
  • The Climate Crisis Subcommittee focuses on information dissemination through social media, the green roof project, and continued city consultations.
  • The Affordability Subcommittee is closely involved in the Middle Ground Project, highlighting youth perspectives on affordability challenges.

Building Momentum: OYEC Recruitment is Active

The Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee stands for youth-driven change in the heart of the city. OYEC welcomes young change makers to participate in initiatives like the Middle Ground Project, and to get involved in direct consultations with city departments. OYEC empowers young voices, enhances collaboration, and shapes policies that resonate with the needs and aspirations of Ottawa’s youth. As projects continue to make an impact, the committee exemplifies the importance of active youth engagement in building a better, more inclusive future. This year’s OYEC committee gathered to chat about why they joined and what initiatives they would like to tackle.  If you are interested in learning more about OYEC or become involved as a member, you can learn more here. 

Igniting Creativity: How Ottawa’s Media Partnership Team is Transforming the City’s Creative Landscape

Igniting Creativity

How Ottawa's Media Partnership Team is Transforming the City's Creative Landscape


In a collaboration that defies stereotypes and showcases the hidden artistic potential within Ottawa, Youth Ottawa, Hot Shoe Productions, the Ottawa Film Office, REEL CANADA, and the Nepean Creative Arts Centre came together to offer the Ottawa Pop-Up Film School last month, through government funding from the YESS (Youth Employment Skills Strategy) program.

This humble yet powerful initiative is reshaping Ottawa’s creative landscape and building a partnership team dedicated to inspiring young talent in the realms of film, television, animation, and media.

From June 26th to 30th, 15 selected youth participated in a five-day series of workshops introducing youth to the different roles and departments on a film set. The classes took place at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre and covered a variety of topics; such as a breakdown of departments and their roles, camera, production, post production, set etiquette, and more! Participants also had the opportunity to apply their new skills and knowledge by shooting a short film and learning about the pre-production process.  

The goal of the free program was to give underrepresented youth in Ottawa the chance to learn new skills and empower their creative side. Out of 78 total applicants ranging from the ages of 18-30, 15 were selected for this “Industry Incubating” course. The program encouraged youth to explore careers in filmmaking and gave them the tools necessary to do so. Once the course was finished, participants had basic filmmaking skills and were awarded $500 by REEL CANADA, in addition to access to paid internship opportunities for completing the five day Pop-Up Film School. 

Revitalizing Ottawa's Creative Scene

Ottawa has often been unfairly dismissed as a monotonous government town, with young creatives often encouraged to seek opportunities in larger cities like Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver. However, this emerging partnership team aims to challenge that perception and discover the untapped potential of Ottawa’s youth. The goal of “ The Pop-Up Film School” was to promote Ottawa as a production destination for film & TV and this five-day course did exactly that. 

Led by the visionaries at Youth Ottawa and with the guidance of Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos, Ottawa’s Film Commissioner, this collaboration is determined to reshape the narrative surrounding Ottawa’s creative energy. After this pop-up course, it is clear that filmmaking can thrive in any city and despite popular narratives, Ottawa’s youth can excel in the film industry. Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos highlights this creative energy by commenting,

“It was awesome to see how this group was eager to learn and how engaged and passionate they were about the film industry in Ottawa. These pop-up trainings are essential for our workforce development efforts. I am grateful to Youth Ottawa and REEL CANADA for making it possible, and we hope there will be more on a regular basis.”

Empowering Ottawa's Youth

The successful community-based offering of the Youth Active Media program represents a significant milestone for Youth Ottawa, marking their first-ever collaboration with the Ottawa Film Office, and their introduction of programming at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre. This achievement demonstrates the power of partnership and the shared commitment to empowering Ottawa’s youth, encouraging them to explore their creative passions.

Through mentorship and access to necessary resources, this partnership team is nurturing a new generation of filmmakers, animators, and media professionals within Ottawa. The program’s success not only fuels creativity but also provides valuable opportunities for these aspiring artists, highlighting the infrastructure and support available in the city.

One of the most successful aspects of this course was the partnerships that came together. Not only did Youth Ottawa connect with many other organizations that helped make the program possible, but the participants built partnerships with each other that enriched their learning process. Ben Bergeron (YAM Coordinator, Hot Shoe Productions Creative Director) mentions this collaborative spirit as he says, 

“I most enjoyed seeing all these incredible young people come together to work on making a film together. It was really incredible to see the participants grow from being nervous to touch the equipment on Day 1 to working together to make a film on the last day.”

Building a Supporting Community

With the unwavering support of the Ottawa Film Office, REEL CANADA, and the Nepean Creative Arts Centre, this partnership team is constructing a foundation where creativity can flourish. 

By pooling their resources, expertise, and industry connections, they are fostering an environment where young creatives can find inspiration, develop their skills, and connect with established professionals. 

Between the passionate participants and enthusiastic instructors, there was a “supportive environment [that] allowed everyone to freely express themselves and collaborate seamlessly. Without a doubt, being a part of this experience was unforgettable, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been involved,” says Colin Ziraldo (Hot Shoe Productions Employee, YAM Instructor). 

As students were able to come together to create their own short film at the end of the week and many of them even expressed that they will be directing their own short films in the future, it is proven that inclusive and empowering programs such as this one are crucial in cultivating the creative talent in our city. And thanks to REEL CANADA and YESS, we’re able to support the goal of having the training lead directly to paid paths in the film industry!

Beyond the immediate impact of the program, this collaboration aims to establish Ottawa as a welcoming hub for artists, filmmakers, and writers. By dispelling the misconception of Ottawa as a sleepy government town, this partnership team seeks to attract and retain young talent, enriching the city’s cultural scene and fostering its creative economy.

Joining the Partnership Team

If you are part of the film, television, animation, or media industry and share a passion for nurturing young creatives and cultivating the cultural landscape, Youth Ottawa’s Youth Active Media program and its partner organizations warmly welcome your involvement.

It is important to include all kinds of different voices in projects such as “The Pop-Up Film School” because that is what truly makes it special. After the completion of this program, Wendly Pierre (Program Participant, Hot Shoe Productions Photographer), highlighted this by saying,

“I enjoyed seeing everyone’s interests for the different departments & how they were drawn to specific things around filmmaking. I really liked what was taught. It definitely elevated me to a new level in terms of what goes on and off a set. The environment was very welcoming! Everyone got along very well. We were all different but worked together so nicely!”

By joining this growing partnership team, you can contribute to the development and vibrancy of Ottawa’s creative community. Your expertise, resources, and enthusiasm will help shape the future of aspiring artists, providing them with the necessary support and opportunities to succeed.

The team at Youth Ottawa is committed to creating strong partnerships and coming together with local volunteers and organizations. They constantly do their best to connect to their community in an effective way. After their latest partnership, Jack Blum from REEL CANADA attests to Youth Ottawa’s efforts in saying, 

“Youth Ottawa has been a fantastic partner.  The Reel Opportunities program depends on local organizations providing solid coordination, a high level of training, and connection to the communities we are trying to reach.  Youth Ottawa delivered all of these things in spades!”


Through the Youth Active Media program, in collaboration with Youth Ottawa, Hot Shoe Productions, the Ottawa Film Office, REEL CANADA, and the Nepean Creative Arts Centre, Ottawa’s creative scene is undergoing a transformative journey. Together, they humbly demonstrate that Ottawa holds untapped artistic potential and is far more than just a government town.

By empowering and inspiring Ottawa’s youth, this partnership team is fostering a community where creativity flourishes, careers take flight, and dreams become realities. They are challenging the notion that young creatives must seek opportunities elsewhere, working to establish Ottawa as a welcoming and vibrant destination for artists, filmmakers, and writers.

Come and be a part of this growing partnership team today. Together, we can contribute to Ottawa’s evolution into a city where creativity knows no boundaries, and the artistic spirit thrives.

Meet the 2023 Summer Amplified Cohort

Meet the 2023 Summer Amplified Cohort!

At Youth Ottawa, we firmly believe in the power of youth to shape the present and the future. Their innovative ideas have the potential to ignite positive change, not only in their own lives but also within their communities. Each year, we provide support to young entrepreneurs, helping them take their businesses to new heights. Through our Summer Amplified Fellowship, we empower these fellows to transform their social innovation frameworks into sustainable social enterprises.

We’re excited to introduce you to Ben and Sallysha, two inspiring fellows from our 2023 cohort and to shed light on their remarkable projects. Both fellows exemplify the incredible potential of youth in entrepreneurship. With their projects focused on co-designing public spaces and amplifying young changemakers, they demonstrate a commitment to community engagement, sustainability, and making a meaningful impact.

Ben Wright

"Welcome: Co-designing Public Spaces"

Ben’s activation project, called “Welcome,” focuses on co-designing public spaces. His goal is to engage civically-minded youth groups in Ward 13, providing them with facilitation and design tools to create their own spaces. Unlike traditional approaches, Ben’s project empowers community members to design and prototype their ideal spaces. By incorporating human-centered and community-driven design principles, he ensures that the final outcomes truly reflect the community’s desires and effectively meet their needs. The project’s results will be digitally published, allowing others to engage with and apply them in their own communities. Ben is passionate about amplifying the voices of youth in civic conversations, and through the Youth Ottawa Amplified Fellowship, he aims to make a sustainable and lasting social impact.

Sallysha Vital

"The People of Tomorrow (TPOT)"

Sallysha’s project, “The People of Tomorrow (TPOT),” is a creative platform that highlights and encourages the efforts of young changemakers in various fields, including education, social justice, art, science, and innovation. TPOT aims to amplify the voices of young individuals who are making positive impacts in their communities. In this summer fellowship, Sallysha seeks to enhance her leadership skills, inspiring the community through innovative and creative means. She aspires to deepen her understanding of making a significant impact on people and social issues, while also fostering connections with peers, experts, and mentors within Youth Ottawa. By leveraging these abilities, Sallysha envisions a brighter future for TPOT and the communities it serves.

What's next?

If you would like to support our Summer Amplified Fellowship and continue seeing the amazing work of youth like Ben and Sallysha, please consider donating today! Your donations go directly towards our operations at Youth Ottawa, including businesses such as these.

Youth Ottawa’s Raffle Lottery | Supporting Youth Programs


Everything You Need to Know about Youth Ottawa’s First Ever 50/50 Raffle Lottery

Youth Ottawa is thrilled to announce our first ever online 50/50 raffle fundraiser, starting June 1st, 2023 and ending with a draw on Aug. 19, 2023

This is your chance to support Ottawa youth in a big way, while giving yourself the chance to win big as well!

Tickets can be bought at:

    • 1 for $10
    • 4 for $20
    • 20 for $50 
    • 100 for $100

The raffle grand prize is 50% of the total jackpot and will be announced on the 19th, following our annual Mayor’s Golf Tournament. The more tickets you buy, the higher your chances of winning a larger jackpot sum!

All proceeds from the raffle will directly contribute to Youth Ottawa’s operations and programs, including the Youth Active Media (YAM), Active Citizenship Initiative (ACI), Social Enterprise Program (SEP), and Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee (OYEC).

Our main objective is to remove barriers in accessing affordable educational programming. For example, the YAM program equips youth with comprehensive video production skills, guiding them from initial planning to the creation of final products. Many YAM Alumni have pursued careers in media production and some have even found employment with our very own Hot Shoe Productions. Hot Shoe Productions is a youth-led social enterprise supported by Youth Ottawa that provides young people with experience in media production and filmmaking.

Meanwhile, the ACI program empowers youth to address a social issue through a medium of their choice, from building board game businesses to cultivating community gardens and more.

OYEC takes the ACI philosophy one step further by introducing youth voices to municipal government decision-making through youth-led sub-committees. Right now, there are four subcommittees in OYEC: human rights, affordable housing, mental health, and climate change.

Generous contributions from our raffle will enable us to procure new filming equipment for YAM, enhance exposure and event opportunities for ACI, and provide additional support for OYEC’s vital projects such as their mental health initiative. 

These programs form the cornerstone of our commitment to empowering youth, equipping them with the resources they need to spark change in their communities and in their own lives. 

To participate and learn more about the raffle rules, visit our Rafflebox link.

Amplifying Youth Potential in Entrepreneurship

Amplifying Youth Potential in Entrepreneurship

At Youth Ottawa, we believe that youth are not only our future but our current reality. Their innovative ideas not only have the power to spark change within their own lives but also have the power to make our communities stronger. 

Youth often are most observant of the social issues that require solving in our communities. That is why their ideas are revolutionary. 

That is also why we have been running the Summer Amplified Fellowship since 2019. The program amplifies the entrepreneurial ideas of youth through a three-step process: business development training, mentorship, and networking. 

Every year, we support young entrepreneurs to boost their businesses to the next level. By hiring them to work for themselves throughout the summer, fellows can transform their social innovation frameworks into long-term and sustainable social enterprises.

After a brief pause in the fellowship due to the pandemic, we welcomed Drayton and Nathan as our summer amplified fellows in 2022. Now is a great chance to meet them and see what they’ve been up to since!

The 2022 Summer Amplified Fellowship cohort

Image of Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo

Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo


Drayton’s business, 20today20tomorrow, envisions a vibrant community of youth who are active in their communities. By bringing together a group of young innovators, 20today20tomorrow works to identify and address social issues with creative solutions. For example, their Inspire the Next initiative provides youth with a platform to share their experiences and ideas through a podcast and a live show format. Today, the organization is working on continuing its Inspire the Next shows. Who knows what will come tomorrow?

Image of Nathan Monpremier

Nathan Monpremier


HopeIsFamous is a clothing brand that empowers young athletes. Using high-quality materials and a durable design, HopeIsFamous ensures athletes feel and perform at their best. Nathan and his team have recently expanded their clothing line into the world of customizable sportswear for local sports teams and other organizations and have continued their work in community outreach to promote healthy lifestyles.

What's next?

Interested in becoming a summer amplified fellow? Applications will open on June 5 at 9 a.m. and will close on June 16 at noon.