So you want to know about the new OYEC...

Before she was the program coordinator of the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee (OYEC), Alia Farhat was a coordinator at the Overbrook Community Association’s Planning and Development Committee. Alia first came into contact with Youth Ottawa through our Executive Director Jesse Card and Larry Ring, as they were working with youth on the RUN (Rise Up Now Centre) in Overbrook. With her long commitment to community involvement, Alia was invited to oversee the relaunch of OYEC.

The Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee is a for-youth-by-youth team responsible for guiding civic action within the city. Governmental leaders take these discussions into consideration when making decisions for the future of the city. It was first established as a Youth Summit when Mayor Jim Watson was first elected, partnering Youth Ottawa with the City of Ottawa. We are so grateful that the City continues to fund this project, allowing youth voices to be heard.

Our three core mandates:

In the past, OYEC has worked with Ottawa Public Health to organize a city-wide youth sexual education & resource summit. They have also worked with Councillor Mathieu Fleury to secure accessible recreational activities and spaces for cultural practices for Indigenous youth. 

We are returning this team into action with the help of YouthNet, a mental health promotion and intervention organization. Youth have already started their work in pushing forward the proclamation for National Youth Week.

House 2022
“I think it’s important because I think everyone needs a helping hand in life and it’s much more easier when everyone kind of assists in that process, my community involvement is more specific to youth and I just think the next generation can learn from our mistakes and grow to have a better future”
Alia Farhat
OYEC Program Coordinator

There are two different roles that youth can apply for: Youth Leaders and Youth Network Members. Youth Leaders meet monthly to discuss various topics with community leaders and City officials. Applicants are selected for these positions, as there is limited space and a priority to ensure there is diverse representation within the group. On the other hand, spots are unlimited when applying to become a member of the OYEC Network, as OYEC is looking to involve thousands of Ottawa youth in this group. These members are put onto our newsletter to get other opportunities such as invitations to special events and invitations to contribute to specific subcommittees of OYEC. 

“[OYEC is] not necessarily like an overhead organization dictating the schedules and the action plans that the government wants,” Alia said. “We’re just providing a platform for youth to engage with one another and we are providing them with whatever resources they need to see their actions progress, or have their actions followed-through.”

Generally, OYEC is a one-year commitment but could be extended for two additional years. 

Those who are successful in their application may request that their work count towards their 40 required volunteer hours, and those who are accepted into a leadership position may apply to receive up to $100 a month.


    • Youth between the ages of 15-24 
    • Current resident in the City of Ottawa 
    • Be enthusiastic, passionate and proactive about making a difference 
    • Be committed to attending meetings regularly (1-2 meetings per month) for a period of 1 year (possibility to extend) 
    • Be a good team player – have the ability to work within a team with fairness, integrity and respect for others 
    • *Be willing to actively participate in OYEC by bringing new ideas, providing constructive input and helping with fair decision-making 
    • Youth who complete the application survey and/or are recommended by a community organization as a youth representative who can meet the above criteria 
    • Be available for special events and advocate for YouthNet and Youth Ottawa as a community ambassador.

Alia said she is hoping youth will learn about municipal government processes and other ways to engage with the community to have their voices heard. 


“Current policies are quite outdated,” she said. “It’s just not as welcoming to certain populations, certain demographics, more specifically to youth even though it kind of affects them in their life.”

“There’s no way of creating action without taking the first step.”
- Alia Farhat

Interested in OYEC?

Take your first step and apply for either a leadership position or a youth network position today!

To learn more about OYEC and our community guidelines, click here!