Every year, the Kitchener Youth Action Council (KYAC) celebrates the talents and contributions of young people in our community. We want to promote a positive image of young people and generate awareness of the valuable contributions youth make in our community.

On this page:

  1. Nominations
  2. Eligibility
  3. 2022 nominees

Nominations

By taking a few minutes to nominate a young person for a KYAC Youth Award, your recognition of their contribution and commitments can change a young person's life. A nomination shows them that you care, that the work they do is valued and appreciated, and it just might be the motivation they need to take their community involvement to the next level.  

Subscribe to this page to get an email when we add nomination information for 2023.


Eligibility

Nominees must be between the ages of 14 and 24 and must live in the Kitchener - Waterloo area. Nominees should have completed some of their volunteer work or community contributions within the Kitchener community. There is also an award category for adults over the age of 24.


2022 nominees

KYAC recognized the 2022 nominees at an event in June 2022. Open the accordions below to learn about each nominee.

Niklas Emrich
This person is said to be someone who has persevered despite their adversities and has used this determination to contribute to his community. Niklas is currently a grade 10 student at the Elmira District Secondary School. Niklas was a fast forward recommended student, however he was determined to stay in his home high school and stay in regular programming. This resulted in countless hours of studying, being one of the few to never miss an online class during the pandemic and obtaining 3 part-time jobs. Niklas has been on the honour roll since his start at Elmira and has scored fantastic results in the literacy test. Starting high school in a new location that you have not grown up in is challenging enough, let alone trying to do it during a pandemic. Niklas has come a long way and his personal triumph is a positive example and a great reminder that anything can be achieved if we put our minds to it. Niklas set his goals for success and triumph. KYAC congratulates you for your amazing efforts.
Luma Abuarqoub
Luma is a passionate person who always speaks up about positive social change. Luma uses her strengths and her attitude as well as aptitude in the arts to continue to bring positive change to her community. Luma has continually shown passion in promoting those arts and using it as a tool to bring change in the community she lives. Luma volunteered with a kid’s art program which promoted the use of art as a way of healing and therapy for refugee children. She initiated and is currently working on developing a non-profit that will promote the artwork of local artists that advocated for social change. The University of Waterloo is lucky to have you, KYAC knows you will end up putting your degree to the fullest use, leveraging your education to continue to promote inclusivity and diversity.
Nur Elmasri
Nur is a business savvy and determined individual. Nur has formed multiple organizations and social action projects. Nur has started a sustainable candle company and works with Enactus Laurier to research sustainable methods to live our everyday lives. Nur is involved with VNHA Kitchener as well. Nur has started multiple businesses from the ground up and in a sustainable manner as well. KYAC congratulates you on your entrepreneurial journey.
Solomon Abate
Solomon is described as a kind-hearted, dedicated, and reliable volunteer. Solomon calls older people with disabilities to check in on their well-being and prods friendly conversation and cognitive activities such as a crossword puzzle or trivia game over the phone. These participants are often experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation and will often look forward to his calls. Thank you, Solomon, for making the world a more inclusive place.
Fredlyne Kayee and Estera Bacila
Both individuals participated in a young leadership program run by House of Friendship to learn about various skills for leadership and development. At the end of the program, Fredlyne and Estera had a placement of volunteer hours in which they successfully ran a March break camp for the youth in the community all by themselves. To run a camp with about 25 youth successfully on their own with no experience prior goes to show how strong these two leaders are. These challenges for youth ensure that volunteers can bring the best they can to their communities.
Destiny Osunbiyi
Within Kind Minds Family Wellness, Destiny is a youth mentor and steady voice of Black youth at discussion and planning tables with collaborators and regional partners. Destiny was a representative of her school for the WRDSB student senate and is a Student Executive at their Black Student Union. KYAC is very pleased with how you have demonstrated continued and consistent leadership works as a group leader, mentor, and youth contributor at KFW and ensuring your responsibilities are never compromised. Destiny, you are always eager to contribute and take on tasks, especially those related to young Black voices. Your contributions have gained you the respect of many in your community and this is something to celebrate.
Aalaa Rehman
Aalaa has done a lot of work for the community. She took charge of and spearheaded her schools ‘Orange Shirt Day’ project this year. She has created well informed graphics on topics for Indigenous communities near Kitchener-Waterloo. Aalaa also has multiple social change projects happening, and KYAC is proud to have her as a member of our team.
Maddie Resmer
Maddie owns their own indigenous business called Western Sky Designs. Maddie is also a part of Land Back Camp. Their works of art, beginning, jewelry, and graphic designs are seen across the region at various markets and events. Maddie also speaks on panels and at workshops as well as rallies, and many other events across the region. Indigenous values and worldviews embody them, and Maddie continuously shoe up for their community to fight for social justice, equity, and Indigenous rights. KYAC is proud to say that Maddie displays all the most important qualities of being a youth leader.
Olivia Maine
Olivia has begun to make a name for themselves in the art world with a growing Instagram following. Olivia has been featured at art markets across the region and is also a member of Land Back Camp. Olivia is a strong indigenous youth leader, even when trying to learn their Cree language as part of the two-spirit community. Olivia has used their voice at rallies and marches, events and workshops and is currently a member of WellBeingWRand has helped organize “It Matters' ', a menstrual equity campaign. KYAC believes that Olivia is a valuable member of the Indigenous community and is a future role model for all youth when it comes to social action, justice, equity, and Indigenous sovereignty.
Mannase Teklu
Mannase has been a pillar for help for a needing neighbour. Mannase does yard work for neighbours where they live and actively participates in their fathers cleaning business. Manasse has assisted with installing Christmas lights, raking and bagging yard waste as well as disposing of it to the curb or a temporary garbage shelter. Manasse has been described as being consistently punctual, polite and willing to work. KYAC admires the ability of youth to participate in their neighbourhood functions by helping anyone that needs a hand.
Sydney Barker
Sydney has been involved in the community since starting her position as a volunteer lifeguard at the Grand River rec Center and her 4-years as a member of KYAC, serving in multiple positions. She has also been involved in helping fundraise for Cystic Fibrosis as well as Alzheimer’s. Sydney has been a member of the Volunteer Action team and from there has had the opportunity to spearhead a project to help Carizon find a better use for social media and start their own youth council, similar to KYAC.
Danny White
Danny shows strength of character, strong academic standing, community service and commitment to the field of recreation is a proud member of KYAC. Danny is a member of the national para soccer team and has used the love of sport as a way to advocate for greater inclusion and access to sport amongst marginalized communities. Danny has a unique gift of bringing positivity into every room through a friendly and approachable manner. KYAC is proud to have a member like Danny that embodies the values of the community and uses his passion for recreation and sport to make a positive difference in the community.
Dewe'igan Dee Bearfoot
Our next nominee is an amazing youth. Dee is quite artistic and spends time at Land Back Camp gardening and volunteering. Dee speaks on panels and contributes art and poetry to magazines and publications on trans activism, health, and Indigenous sovereignty. She is a true future leader in the community.
Faith Carroll-Bellamy
Faith is an active volunteer at the Centreville Chicopee Community Centre. Faith volunteers every Saturday to help with different age range groups of basketball. Faith has made beautiful connections to many of the participating children and her leadership in the space allows the children to build their skills. KYAC appreciates all that you have done, Faith.
Carlos Arita Perez
Carlos runs the youth nights at Centreville Chicopee Community Center. Carlos is a volunteer that volunteers with the center's CCCA programs. Carlos has not missed a Saturday since signing up for the position, since then he has begun to help with more programs such as soccer, basketball and the center shows. The neighbour bond is pride in teaching and is something that Carlos shows without question. KYAC appreciates the contributions of youth who never give up and face their fears.
Ian Thibert
When Ian first started as a volunteer, he was shy but as weeks went on, he began to open up to coaches and fellow volunteers. Ian specializes in teaching children with special needs soccer and provides excellent accessibility training; using his body to demonstrate verbal cues for those with special needs. Ian reinforces the idea that children can do whatever they want so long as they put 100% effort into the activity. KYAC understands that working with special needs children is something that is so appreciated by community members.
Nasir Salih
Nasir is the AFRO Youth Ambassador and has been for close to 6 years now. Nasir is a person with the passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to supporting all young people in their journey toward life. Through sports, he has engaged and interacted with youth in the Black community who have lost focus in life. Nasir has been a mentoring body by empowering them to make a difference in the communities and develop leadership skills. Alongside this, he has also organized non-formal education for youths to improve their social and entrepreneurial skills in the Waterloo region. KYAC recognizes the reliability as well as leadership and organizational skills of Nasir, serving your community for an extended period takes character.
Mohamed Bekdach
Mohamed has been a volunteer with the Stanley Park Community Center since October of 2019. Mohamed has been an extremely reliable and active volunteer who has shown great enthusiasm when helping in the community. Mohamed has helped with numerous special events in various roles and is always willing to help where needed. KYAC recognizes youth that have grown into their roles.
Larissa Pendersen
Larissa is a stand-up youth who is very dedicated to her studies but also makes time for her sports community and neighbourhood. Larissa is a helpful and inclusive volunteer who takes safety seriously and always takes care when taking care of neighbourhood children. Larissa is a champion for others at the KW Cycling academy and not only cares for neighbourhood pets and children but the whole street.
Hiba El-Miari (adult nominee)
Our first nominee is Hiba. Hiba is a third-generation Palestinian refugee from Lebanon and arrived in Canada in 2015 on a full scholarship to study Biology at Wilfrid Laurier University as part of their ISOWDWL program. At Laurier, she was one of three organizers of a one-day symposium on “Responding to the Human Realities of Conflict”. Where members of the Laurier community were invited to participate in active-learning workshops on current conflicts. Following that, she found the Laurier Arab Student Association, the first at Laurier. However, her service goes outside of the campus and begins with her work with Levant, a non-profit organization that supports refugees as they feel crises and seek safety in Canada. Hiba helped to facilitate an easy integration into Canadian life through arts and culture as an active member of the Youth Theater and the Dabke dance group. Hiba has grown since their coming to Canada and their impact on the people around them has led to the mass contributions of young people. KYAC is excited to support such an individual that volunteers their time and energy to break stereotypes though sports, dancing, arts, and STEM objectives. KYAC now invites you to make your way to the front to be presented with your nomination package. 
Denny Ashenaki (adult nominee)
Our second ally nominee is the current chair of the Ethiopian community association that serves the waterloo region. Denny often goes over and above to serve and lift their youth in their community, Denny is constantly championing for them and is extremely dedicated to connecting the youth through soccer program and coaching. This year, Denny has led a free soccer program for the youth, bringing the whole community to support youth and children via free drop-in soccer practice, coaching and tournaments. Denny has shown to tirelessly champion the youth in our community. KYAC admires his dedication and unwavering focus, as well as positive influence on many youths in the community. KYAC now invites you to make your way to the front to be presented with your nomination package.