2017 is an exciting and festive year where Ontarians have the opportunity to come together and celebrate the incredible province we live in. During Canada’s 150th anniversary, we want to embrace and highlight the culture of inclusion, innovation, and opportunity that uniquely defines Ontario.

Through the Ontario150 grant program, the Young Leaders Advisory Council (YLAC) has been able to focus on and celebrate the insightful and innovative young leaders in our community who are the new face of Canada. In the spirit of partnership and in commemoration of National Youth Week and Canada’s 150th Birthday, the Young Leaders Advisory Council (YLAC) in partnership with Black History Ottawa (BHO) will be hosting its very first SMART START Youth Summit.

Created and led by a multicultural group of young Canadians, the 2017 SMART START Youth Summit is a 2-day celebration held at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. This historic event focuses on developing leadership and entrepreneurial skills for youth aged 13-24. The Summit, taking place during the day on Saturday May 6th and Sunday May 7th, will offer 150 young leaders in Ottawa the opportunity to learn from industry professionals, network with mentors, and offer youth a platform to showcase their innovative ideas so that they may be recognized and celebrated for their brilliance. Most importantly, youth will have the opportunity to create synergies with peers from across Ottawa. Synergy being the creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, this is exactly what we hope youth to take away from this SMART START Youth Summit. The goal is for youth to leave the summit with a greater sense of community and partnership that inspires them to continue innovating and creating in ways that uplift and give back to their communities.

This Youth Summit is an opportunity for Black, Indigenous, racialized, newcomer and refugee youth, youth in rural and remote communities, as well youth in need of societal support and encouragement to come together and experience a weekend of inspiration and learning.  YLAC’s goal is to eliminate every possible barrier that would otherwise prevent these youth from being able to participate or attend. This means providing participants with an all-expense paid opportunity including cost of registration, all their materials, transportation and food.

With keynote speakers like CTV Ottawa’s very own Stefan Keyes, UN Women’s Ambassador Aminka Belvitt, and author of Bossed Up, Tamar Huggins the Summits lineup of guest speakers and facilitators will feature community leaders with diverse backgrounds who represent the often forgotten narrative in Canada; 150 years of resilience, leadership and innovation within marginalized communities.

The first of its kind here in the National Capital, the SMART START Youth Summit is going to be an incredible convergence of young leaders and change makers. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and certainly the first of many to come.

Press Release (PDF): SMART START Press Release

About YLAC

The Young Leaders Advisory Council (YLAC) is a local non-profit community organization offering a variety of leadership services and programs to individuals as well as small to medium sized businesses in the Ottawa and Gatineau region. The council focuses on increasing civic engagement through mentorship and volunteerism, promoting awareness of self by encouraging knowledge of heritage and cultural traditions; and providing a platform for young people to become the leaders of tomorrow – TODAY.


To situate young people of racialized communities in positions of leadership and influence by promoting diversity and inclusion within the National Capital Region and across Canada. To learn more visit www.ylac.ca or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

For more information contact:

Danait Mehreteab

Director of Public Relations
Attn: Danait Mehreteab

Eldon Holder 
Chair and Director of Community Engagement
Attn: Eldon Holder

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