Nominate a deserving youth for an RBC Spirit of the Capital award

Do you know a young person making the world a better place every day?

Since 1997, Youth Ottawa has been celebrating youth achievement in the national capital. The RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards are an opportunity to share the stories of exceptional young people while introducing them to the broader community and new opportunities.

The initiative is sponsored by RBC and organized by Youth Ottawa, a non-profit charity that believes in empowering youth through community programs and support.

The 26th edition of the awards will return on June 29, 2023, and they are looking for 14 young people between the ages of 14 and 21 in seven distinct categories. Each recipient will receive a $1000 bursary, an invitation to the gala ceremony hosted by Youth Ottawa on June 29th, local media exposure through CTV, and the ability to network with community leaders.

Youth can be nominated in the following categories: Academic Perseverance, Arts & Culture, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Service & Caring, Strength Through Diversity, Take a Stand, and the Max Keeping Award for Personal Courage. Participants must be willing to have their name and photo used in local media and Youth Ottawa promotional materials and reside within the city limits.

Last year’s recipient in the Strength Through Diversity category was Rehani Akenga. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Akenga fled to neighbouring Malawi, where he faced food insecurity and poverty. Despite this, he collected food and money for the inmates at Maula prison, a horrible place where refugees are often locked up. In addition, he picked up trash to keep his city clean and dignified.

In 2021, Akenga came to Canada. One short year later, he won an RBC Spirit Award. Currently, when he’s not volunteering with the Shepherds of Good Hope, Knights of Columbus, or the Ottawa Police Youth Advisory Committee, he works for Youth Ottawa on the Youth Engagement Committee.

Another recipient, William Bourgault, won the Service and Caring Award in 2021 for starting his charity Footwear 4 Kids. Bourgault started the organisation after realizing he had many gently used shoes. His small initiative to give back turned into a 24-person operation to ensure disadvantaged kids in Ottawa have footwear. Bourgault now works as a youth councillor and has expanded Footwear 4 Kids to clothing, appliances, and food.

The 2021 Service and Caring Award recipient, Yasmine Elmi, volunteers at Queens Way Carleton Hospital and is a peer educator in mental health. She also volunteers with the group Let’s Talk Science. Pursuing a career in medicine and research, Elmi says the award has had a substantial impact on her. “The RBC Service and Caring Award had a huge impact on my career, education, and overall life.”

Elmi explains that receiving a Spirit Award opened doors for her: “I became one of only 20 McCall MacBain scholars in 2022 at McGill University. I feel none of this would have been possible without the visibility and support of the RBC Youth Award.”

Ridgemont High School teacher Afroza Mohammed attended a gala to support a student and thinks the awards positively shape young people. Mohammed stated, “Events like the RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards show that adversity does not have to define them or hold them back.”

The RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards ceremony will be held on June 29th at Collab Space in Ottawa. If you or somebody you know would like to attend the awards gala, stay tuned to Youth Ottawa. Registration for the event opens in May.

If there is an exceptional young person in your life like Rehani Akenga, William Bourgault, or Yasmine Elmi, nominate them for a 2023 RBC Spirit of the Capital Award. Nominations are ongoing and can be submitted using this link: RBC Spirit of The Capital Awards – (

The exposure recipients will gain from the awards, the access to movers and shapers in Ottawa, and the ability to gain employment and volunteer opportunities to help further grow our city are second to none.

For more information on the RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards, visit