Our First Youth Week
In 2022, our Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee proposed the proclamation of National Youth Week to city council members. With the help of supporters like Rawlson King, it has been officially recognized in Ottawa, following the steps of several other cities like Toronto.
This year, National Youth Week took place from May 2 to May 8. Here is an overview of all of the events that happened:
Monday, May 2 - 9-11AM: Youth Action Showcase
To start the week off, we showcased our past ACI projects, with several city councillor members in attendance. Some of the amazing projects done by students included city models, community gardens, and homeless shelters made out of shipping containers.
Monday, May 2 - 6-9PM : Live AMP Series @ SAW Gallery
The Artistic Mentorship Program (AMP) provides young artists with guidance and resources to navigate the creative industry. We provide musicians with stages and professional recordings, artists with places to showcase their work, and so much more.
Youth Ottawa hosted its first AMP event at the National Art Centre in February 2020. The program was then put on hold throughout the pandemic, but it has finally made a return!
Our first live AMP series event of the year, hosted by our Artistic Mentorship Coordinator, Angelo Leo, saw a great turnout Monday night at the SAW Gallery. At the front of the gallery stood go-karts created by Ottawa artist Matteo Bongarzone. Other artists lined the perimeter of the gallery, from psychedelic paintings to a fashion and volunteering brand called Allez.
What’s a celebration without some music? Alongside our visual artists, young musicians took to the stage. All of their songs blessed our ears and raised our spirits after almost two years without live concerts! Each artist owned the stage in their own way with their personality.
First, the dreamy Oddeline performed several of her own original songs. Her voice was a blend of folksy and ethereal that first transported us to a different realm, then brought us back to Earth with her lyrics. Not only was her voice amazing, but her music is also bilingual: singing a song in Portuguese near the end of her set.
Wool Fearz, our next musician, was as much of a performer as he was a DJ. He describes himself as “fleecy and ferocious”: with techno hip-hop beats and dance moves that belong at an even larger stage. We loved his upbeat energy and use of lighting, and his natural and futuristic sounds that told a story!
The Beatles should watch out: Anthony Kubelka is an up-and-coming pianist we had the pleasure of hearing perform. Not only is he a musician, but he is also an educator, improviser, and composer with experience in funk, blues, big band, and a big focus on jazz.
Next in our line-up—after a small technical issue—was an R&B artist called Truly K, who took the stage with her drummer. Her music was soothing and melodic, mentally taking audiences to a cool summer evening in the big city. She certainly made us reminisce about the past and the future with her lyrics, rewarding us with an encore of her song entitled “My Truth”!
Finally, we had the pleasure of hearing Sri-Lankan-born rapper/producer, T. Chandy, perform. He is leaving his mark on hip hop and draws inspiration from artists like J. Cole, Childish Gambino, and OutKast. Afrosoul artist KAR33M joined his set with his narrative-style music. The energy was impeccable: what a way to close out the night!
We would also like to thank our partner company: Hot Shoe Productions for streaming the event for us. These youth got a professional recording of their performances, and they look awesome! Check out the lighting and sound quality for yourself!
We are so thankful for Angelo Leo for working with us to provide all artists with the opportunities they need to become successful in a vast industry. We’re excited to have been able to bring it back with support from the SAW Gallery. We hope to continue our live AMP series with an event every month, showcasing more young talent with even better outcomes. However, we can’t make this happen without the support of our community. If you are interested in supporting the future of these events through sponsorship or contributions please contact [email protected].
Check it out for yourself!
May 3-6th, every night: Infringefest at the Arts Court
Friday, May 6: Mayor for a Day, City Hall
Samantha Benes and Dayna Xiao, two ninth-grade students from Merivale HS, were selected by Youth Ottawa and the City of Ottawa to spend the day with our mayor, Jim Watson. They got to have breakfast and lunch with the mayor, as well as handle interviews from the press and test out the LRT simulator.
The Mayor for a Day contest has been running since 2017 as a way to promote youth engagement in municipal politics and civic issues. The contest began as part of Youth Ottawa’s OYEC initiative, partnered with the City of Ottawa and Mayor Jim Watson’s office. As a whole, OYEC—also known as the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee—aims to engage young people in conversations where they are so often left out. By having students chosen to spend a day with the mayor, they are able to have their voices and ideas heard to make Ottawa a better city. Though the program was put on hold for 2020-2021, we are grateful to have reintroduced the amazing contest this year.
Samantha focused on urban sprawl in her application: pushing more sustainable transportation and housing to alleviate Ottawa’s dependence on carbon emissions from cars.
Meanwhile, Dayna focused on spreading awareness about discrimination and connecting with the community through small-scale events.
However, both agreed this opportunity was a great way to kick-start their political careers.
“I mainly saw this opportunity as a way to connect more deeply with our community,” Dayna said. “As soon as I saw this opportunity come up on Instagram I immediately knew that I had to apply just because it was a great way to become more immersed in what was going on right now, especially in Ottawa just because I see less opportunities like this, so as soon as I saw it I immediately wanted to apply.”
They both said the day exceeded their expectations.
“Just being there with the mayor and so many council members and getting to see how the decisions are made in our city, that in of itself was super interesting and a great opportunity,” Samantha said.
“Having this diversity in our day: we got to see the art gallery, we got to go to the OC Transpo simulation, and I just got exposed to so many different aspects of our culture in Ottawa and I think that was really cool,” Dayna added.
We hope to continue giving our youth more chances like these to make a difference! If you’re a young person and would like to participate next year, here’s some advice from the two former Mayors for a Day!
Advice from the former Mayors for a Day:
Saturday, May 7 - 9:30AM: OYEC Open House Tour
To close off Youth Week, we decided to highlight the group that made this all possible. Our Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee helped propel the proclamation of Youth Week in Ottawa forward and were thus invited to City Hall for an Open House Tour. A group of 12 youth and our staff had a candid conversation about community engagement with the mayor, and got a behind-the-scenes look at the government building!
See what people were saying
A bigger and better future
In the upcoming months, we will continue to host Live AMP Series events. Next year, we hope to showcase even more amazing and innovative projects at our Youth Action Showcase.
The events that happened this year are just the tip of the iceberg. We are hoping to make next year’s Youth Week even grander and hope you will join us!
Are you a community organization focused on youth engagement and want to help out? Youth Ottawa is looking for partners to amplify next year’s lineup of events and we want you to be part of it!