By the time he reached his Grade 11 environmental science class, Sam Turgeon-Brabazon had already been a social activist for years.
Jason Collard, a facilitator going into classrooms with Youth Ottawa at the time, worked with that class. There, he hosted a “DILA” day, which is our old Active Citizenship Initiative (ACI) equivalent, and invited guest speaker Ryan Hreljac. Hreljac had founded a non-profit project for clean drinking water in Africa, and was an inspiration for Sam.
This experience with a Youth Ottawa program then inspired him to join our Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee (OYEC), where he would soon be elected to co-chair and would meet several other members in his final two years of high school. Their mentorship was a valuable process, he said.
Realizing that OYEC was a starting point for success in any possible avenue, Sam started a sustainable agriculture project kit called “Sam’s Sprouts.” The project allowed people to grow their own micro-greens in an urban farming environment, while simultaneously growing his own love for civic engagement.
“Then, I realized that business is a vehicle for social good,” Sam said.
While the Sam’s Sprouts project is no longer ongoing, Sam’s sprouts are still growing in terms of his impact on the community.
He said working with OYEC and observing the behind the scenes processes of public policy was a privilege, and it allowed him to gain comfort in public speaking, leadership skills, and set him up for success while interacting with city councillors who noticed these amazing qualities.
In 2015, he left OYEC and started pursuing an undergraduate degree in public affairs at Carleton University, and then a degree in business studies at Queens’ University in 2022.
“In a direct way, my time with OYEC helped me discover my love of contributing to the betterment of my community,” Sam said. “In an indirect way, I first discovered my love of social entrepreneurship in 2014 at the same time as when I was on OYEC, and my fellow OYEC members played a significant role in motivating me on my entrepreneurial journey … If it wasn’t for their steadfast encouragement, it’s uncertain whether I would have continued to pursue entrepreneurship and business development more broadly as a career path.”
Want to follow in Sam's footsteps and make a BIG impact? OYEC is now recruiting!
- Between the ages of 15-24 and live in Ottawa
- Enthusiastic, energetic & proactive
- Able to participate by bringing new ideas, input, and fair decision-making to the table
- Committed to attending 1-2 meetings a month for 1 year
- A team player through fairness, integrity, and respect for others