• By: Chloë Hayes

Local Ottawa youth awarded BGC Canada Youth of the Year Award.

ABOVE: 18-year-old Domac is the recipient of the BGC Youth of the Year Award. 

It’s no secret that growing up can be challenging. But for many children and youth in the Ottawa area, it can be tougher than you would imagine. Food insecurity, lack of affordable family housing, and the proper social support can create seemingly insurmountable challenges.

That’s where BGC Canada and its local Ottawa chapter come in. BGC Canada is the country’s largest child and youth-dedicated organization. Through effective, impactful programs, community-based services, and relationships with peers and caring adults, BGC Canada helps kids and teens develop the skills they need to succeed and offers them life-changing opportunities.

Not familiar with BGC? The organization changed its name from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada in 2021, realizing that not all children and youth identify as boys or girls. It is part of their mission to ensure every child feels seen and heard.

One of the BGC’s most impactful initiatives is its Youth of the Year Awards, which celebrate youth leadership and achievement at BGC clubs across Canada.

This year, BGC Canada proudly announced 18-year-old Domac as the local youth winner.

Domac was just 11 years old when he joined a BGC club. Despite life’s challenges, with the help of his local Club, he has grown into a strong member of his community.

As a member of his local Club, BGC Ottawa, Domac has used his voice to become a proponent of many local causes, including youth-led mentorship and homework programs.

He has become an outstanding mentor to many new Club members in the last seven years. “I believe I have been a positive mentor for BGC members,” Domac said, “I teach them leadership and discipline and that everyone has a chance to achieve greatness.”

“While he’s still a teenager, Domac shows maturity beyond his years,” says Adam Joiner, CEO of BGC Ottawa, “He is humble and kind to all. As someone who has worked with youth for many years, I can confidently say that Domac is an exemplary leader among his peers at BGC Ottawa and in our community.”

After becoming a Regional Youth of the Year recipient, Domac is now studying psychology and hopes to advocate for accessible therapy and mental wellness programs. His goal is to empower youth to unlock their potential and share the opportunities he experienced at his local BGC.

BGC Ottawa works to ensure equal opportunities for all. In Ottawa, BGC’s story doesn’t end with Domac. BGC Ottawa is the city’s largest child and youth-serving charitable organization, and it provides innovative youth programs to over 4500 youth and has done so every year since 1923. BGC Ottawa is a registered charity, and for almost 100 years, it has provided programming directly to children and youth in Ottawa’s vulnerable neighbourhoods. The Club serves 19 neighbourhoods with four full-capacity Clubhouses and satellite locations throughout the city.

BGC Ottawa provides safe, supportive places where all kids and teens of any background can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, and develop confidence and skills for life. From anti-racism to Reconciliation to LGBTS+ protection, food security to scholarships to job readiness, the Clubs battle systemic issues with systemic solutions – equity, acceptance, support, and opportunity. BGC Ottawa is about Systemic Opportunity.

Now more than ever, BGC Ottawa needs your help to continue its essential work. To learn more about BGC Ottawa or how to get involved with the Club, visit bgcottawa.org.