hear from past Spirit Alumni

Namitha Rathinappillai

Namitha was the recipient of 2019 RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards. She received the Arts and Culture award for her work within the poetry community and has made it her mission to continue working towards supporting marginalized folks.

Supporting Marginalized folks through Spoken Word

“I hope that my position in the arts community can create more spaces for others to be able to perform and feel safe. ”
Namitha Rathinapillai

I remember receiving a message after the Spirit of the Capital Awards from a young woman who had gone to my high school. She mentioned how inspiring it was to see a woman of colour receive an award. It was a beautiful moment for me to have inspired another individual. I didn’t realize until that moment that I was paving the way for other folks to realize their dreams are accessible and achievable. 

My involvement with the arts community began in grade 12 as I started attending more poetry slams and open mic nights. The idea of valuing lived experiences is what intrigued me to pursue it. Being a woman of colour, it is at the forefront that it’s not always as accessible for me to have my voice heard. This could have been something that hindered my drive to pursue poetry but it was the latter. The beautiful thing with poetry is that people really vibe with what is uncomfortable, it allows for a lot of accountability. As I’ve immersed myself in the poetry community, I’ve grown to appreciate that.

The poetry collective I direct called Urban Legends, has made great strides in accessibility, our spaces are physically accessible, and we are committed to improving gender equality through the empowerment of women, girls and people of all genders across the arts community by hosting youth speak, and women slams nights. I hope that my position in the arts community can create more spaces for others to be able to perform and feel safe.

 

“I didn’t realize until that moment that I was paving the way for other folks to realize their dreams are accessible and achievable.”

Namitha Rathinappillai

My first involvement with Youth Ottawa was through the RBC Spirit Awards, but I continued that involvement with the summer fellowship. The fellowship provided a mindset change for me. I went into my directorship of Urban Legends worried about understanding the business aspect, but after the fellowship, I realized if I wanted to be successful in my role I needed to focus on the people, which is the core of Urban Legends. What I liked about Youth Ottawa was that they truly believe that youth have the potential to lead themselves. Receiving the RBC Spirit of the Capital was a testament to this. When you are doing the work it’s really easy to get into imposter syndrome. The award was a huge launching pad for my work It has shown me that the work that I do has had an impact. The impact of having RBC support and value the work of youth has been really great. I think that financial institutions can seem very intimidating and having RBC see the work that we do, value it and invest in it has been monumental.

“ I think that financial institutions can seem very intimidating and having RBC see the work that we do, value it and invest in it has been monumental. ”
Namitha Rathinappillai

Nominations for the 2020 RBC Spirit of the Capital Awards are now OPEN

Nominate a youth you know today!