Hear from past spirit alumni



Brooke Shaw was the Recipient of the 2019 RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards. She received the Strength through Diversity Award. Brooke has been a strong advocate for social justice and equity at her school. She is also a Smart Start Delegate with the Young Leaders Advocacy Council that provides leadership opportunities for black and Indigenous Youth, helped organize events such as Orange Shirt Day activities in support of residential school survivors and the OCDSB 2019 Black Youth Forum where she single handedly pushed for black mental health and self-care component for the day.

Meet a young activist who is shaking things up

You can never be too young to change the world. We are surrounded with fearless, ambitious, and inspiring young activists who use creativity and fierce calls to action to move on the issues that matter to them. Whether it’s organizing school strikes or advocating to politicians, young people demonstrate there is hope for a better tomorrow. Brooke Shaw is one of these young activists, in an interview, Brooke discusses her drive and passion for activism and what winning the award meant to her.

Brooke Shaw

I was 13 years old when I was inspired to use my voice to speak out about issues that mattered to me

The overwhelming response I would receive from my peers fueled my passion to represent the needs of youth in my community. During middle school I was bullied, it was through these hard times that I decided I wanted to advocate for young people. Entering into high school I received the opportunity to transform our schools Black Youth Club from a showcase to a safe space where racialized youth identify, meet, collaborate and learn from one another. Today we use the club to promote different opportunities within the community, where youth can get involved outside of school. This year we are working hard to create a Black History Month assembly where we highlight the present day black children, black activists and people who are making a difference in the community.

The fight for justice has not been an easy one. As a young black woman, I have faced limited access to opportunities. Becoming a part of Youth Ottawa through the RBC Spirit Awards was a turning point. I’ve spent a majority of my youth feeling alone in the fight for equality but through the Awards I was able to meet young people who had similar stories as me. They wanted to take a different path and were doing amazing things to transform their communities.

I never thought that I would receive an award for my work due to the sheer volume of ambitious and inspiring youth in Ottawa. I felt like my steps were small and I didn’t fully understand the impact I was making until there was recognition for it. Youth are searching for organizations like Youth Ottawa and RBC but don’t really know where to begin. These are organizations and institutions that are invested in youth and have empowered me to make a name for myself, change my legacy and become my own person.

With the bursary I was able to buy my first computer. I went through high school with no computer. Actually owning one is new to me! I can get things done on the go and can take my notes in class. To many this can seen small, but without the bursary I would have never been able to afford it. Next year I’ll be going into University. I have applied to Carleton school of social work. I want to use my experiences to help others, my hope is that I can help create a world that is more welcoming to diversity. 


"I want to use my experiences to help others, my hope is that I can help create a world that is more welcoming to diversity." 

- Brooke Shaw