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Each year, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board Student Recognition Awards celebrate excellence in student leadership. Students are chosen by their Principals and/or Vice-Principals for their demonstration of initiative, supported by the will to succeed, the dedication to finish what they started, and the commitment to achieve their personal best. Continue reading to learn more about this year’s recipients, including the nominees and winners of the Excellence in Equity Student Recognition Award!

Ruqiya Ahmed

Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School

Ruqiya is an incredible model of student leadership at Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School. She is a founding member of the school's Diverse Student Union, where she leads meetings, encourages dialogue, acts as a liaison with school administrators, assigns learning tasks and deliverables, and more. She has helped organize events like black history celebrations, an analysis on alternative texts to replace To Kill a Mockingbird, a presentation on Supporting Muslim students during Ramadan, and a Celebrating Eid event. Ruqiya is also Co-President of her school’s Student Council, and has worked tirelessly to support student morale during such a challenging year. She is fearless in taking on new challenges, whether they are in the classroom, at Model United Nations conferences, on the cross country ski course, or on the Rugby field. It would be difficult to find a leadership activity at school that Ruqiya is not part of! Her positive attitude, desire to support others, and work ethic will not be forgotten.

Zeynab Ahmed

Nepean High School

Through courageous conversations and thoughtful presentations, Zeynab Ahmed has been instrumental in helping the entire Nepean High School community learn, change and evolve. Zeynab is a champion for all, helping to validate each student's unique identity. She has been an involved and effective member of Nepean’s Diverse Student Union (DSU) for four years, currently serving as one of its co-heads, and is part of the OCDSB’s Black Youth Forum as well. In addition to championing student voice and the DSU’s transformative work to make school a better place, Zeynab is a member of the Link Crew and has been incredibly helpful to grade nine students transitioning into high school in such a unique year. An outstanding advocate for equity and social justice, Zeynab's contributions to her school community challenge all staff and students to learn and grow!

Marcus Almeida

West Carleton Secondary School

Marcus Almeida’s leadership at West Carleton Secondary School is greatly appreciated by staff and students alike. Though Marcus dedicates much of his time to academic achievements, he also prioritizes his extensive contributions to the school community: he is Co-President of the Student Council, represents students at School Council meetings, shares student ideas and concerns with administration on a regular basis, and helps organize events like spirit weeks and clothing drives for charity. He has been an active Leadership Camp Builder and Link Crew Leader, and is Co-Founder of West I Am, a group that promotes inclusivity, respect, and acceptance. Marcus’s actions over the past four years demonstrate his personal commitment to the school and the local community, and he has played a significant role in continuing West Carleton Secondary School’s legacy as a true community school!

Alicia Anderson-Friday

Urban Aboriginal Alternate High School

In her time at Urban Aboriginal Alternate High School, Alicia Anderson-Friday has demonstrated remarkable growth and resilience. She has faced many challenges with remarkable grace, sharing her experiences through talking circles and showing kindness and compassion when listening to the struggles of others. Alicia is determined and persistent in pursuit of her goals, both personally and academically, and has shown great perseverance in improving her own health and wellbeing. She is a true leader who always offers help to others. Alicia's dedication and welcoming smile have been an asset in establishing a warm, supportive environment at her school. Now, her hard work has earned her an acceptance into an exciting post-secondary program, and she is looking forward to the next stage of her academic journey. Alicia’s peers, teachers, and school community wish her all the best, knowing her determination and compassionate spirit will take her far!

Leith Bader

A.Y. Jackson Secondary School

Building on his previous experience as Grade 11 Rep, Leith Bader is now Co-President of the Student Council at A.Y Jackson Secondary School. He has always encouraged his classmates to participate fully in school-based activities, enjoys leading and organizing events, and is always ready to share his enthusiasm for improving school life! Many of Leith’s peers look up to him as a leader: he is a strong student, a kind person, and a supportive friend. He is fully engaged in academics, has excellent time management and organizational skills, and takes an active role in class and the greater school community. Leith has dedicated a large amount of his time to creating a warm, welcoming environment and has seen the council through some difficult times during the pandemic. However, he has always found a way to help creativity flow, and is always vocal about appreciating his fellow council members!

Alador Bereketab

Canterbury High School

During her time at Canterbury High School, Alador Bereketab has had a tremendously positive impact on students, staff and the school community. In addition to her success in academics and the Arts Canterbury Strings program, Alador has been instrumental in initiatives that empower and amplify student voice. She is founder of the Canterbury Let's Start Change club, which creates awareness and positive change in the community, is co-president of the Canterbury High School Music Council, is an executive member of Canterbury's Black Student Association and represents her school as a member of the Black Youth Forum Advisory Council. Last spring, she wrote a "Dear White Educator" letter to share with school staff: this invited them to engage in courageous conversations through her facilitation of a seminar on improving accessibility and inclusivity in school Arts programs. Alador also led the organization of a virtual assembly during Black History Month, to engage students and staff in learning about black excellence. She is an excellent public speaker in both French and English, is an award winning creative writer, and is an accomplished musician. Her commitment to making her school a more inclusive, thoughtful and welcoming space is truly remarkable!

Shaide Bien-Aimé

Launch Secondary School

Despite the adversity she has faced in life, Shaide Bien-Aimé has demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to excelling in school and achieving at a high level. She is a fierce advocate for young workers’ rights, having fought passionately against discriminatory and unsafe practices that have affected young women in her workplaces. In the wider community, Shaide has demonstrated courage and resilience in holding others accountable for their actions. This year at Launch Secondary School, a brand new program, Shaide has helped educators identify and remove systemic barriers so that others can have more equal opportunities in accessing education. Shaide is a strong role model for young women in the community, and given her high sense of determination and perseverance, it is incredibly fitting that she is the very first graduate of Launch Secondary School, a School Within a College program run in partnership with Algonquin College. Congratulations, Shaide!

Hayat Chasso

Lisgar Collegiate Institute

Hayat Chasso is passionately involved in student life and promoting equity at Lisgar Collegiate Institute. She is currently Co-Chair of Lisgar's MSA and Stay Woke Clubs, and has been a member of Link Crew for the past two years. She has used her leadership skills to organize letter writing campaigns against systemic racism in the police force, and in support of the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition. She has also held a “sock drive” for a local shelter, raised funds for the construction of a water well internationally, co-developed an educational piece on discrimination, racism and unconscious bias for OCDSB elementary classes, and helped organize her school’s Black History Month showcase and Annual Day Against Injustice. Hayat has also been project manager for a holiday gift basket fundraiser for underprivileged families, is a youth volunteer for the Ethiopian Muslim Community of Ottawa, and volunteers for Equal Chance Ottawa, a local NGO that prepares food hampers for less fortunate families. Hayat’s leadership and dedication to social change has created such a positive environment within the school and local community, even during such a difficult year!

Braeden Courteau

Elizabeth Wyn Wood Secondary Alternate Program

Braeden Courteau has truly made the most of his time at Elizabeth Wyn Wood Secondary Alternate Program. Always one to give a cheerful good morning to staff and fellow students, or come up with a friendly joke to tell, he is described as a pillar of his school community. Like many students at his school he has encountered a number of bumps along the road, but he has always returned with a positive attitude and renewed determination to be present and engaged. In every aspect of school life, Braeden has truly flourished until the very end, greeting each day with friendliness and good humour. His peers and instructors are proud to recognize him this year!

Eric Currie

Osgoode Township High School

Eric Currie is a model student who has shown remarkable dedication to making Osgoode Township High School a welcoming, safe, and fun place to be. He projects a calm confidence in everything he does, and shows maturity beyond his years. As Student Council Co-president and an OCDSB Student Senator, Eric has demonstrated excellent leadership in initiatives throughout the school and the District. He supports Grade 9 students with compassion and understanding through his involvement in Link Crew, is a supportive presence in the school’s athletics program, has been integral to the success of Leadership Camp and Relay for Life, and is a staunch supporter and advocate for Diabetes Canada. Eric has had a profound impact on students, staff and the community, and while his school will miss him dearly, they are confident he is destined for great things!

Austin Diamond

Adult High School

Austin is a very resilient and self-aware student. His perseverance towards his goal of attending postsecondary studies in Philosophy, and potentially Law, have inspired his fellow students and their teachers at the Adult High School. As a learner, Austin consistently contributes to in-class conversations with concrete examples that encourage critical thinking among his classmates, and he actively encourages them to question and learn before passing any judgement. Austin believes strongly that one must approach a topic with healthy skepticism in order to better understand the material. A reflective individual, he continues to reflect upon his own actions and understandings of where he fits within society. His patience, encouragement, and open-minded approach toward learning has had such a positive impact on those who are fortunate enough to work with him. Congratulations and well done, Austin!

Krysten Else

Continuing Education

Though Krysten Else had to leave high school without an Ontario Secondary School Diploma earlier in life, she has not let it hold her back! Krysten attended college as a mature student, earning her diploma and pursuing a successful career within the Travel and Tourism Industry. When the COVID-19 pandemic led to Krysten losing her job, she decided to focus on the positive and return to school to complete her Ontario Secondary School Diploma requirements. Krysten is a highly motivated and driven individual, setting a high bar for herself and showing a strong desire to improve herself and learn new things. She has worked hard to complete her courses with outstanding results! When asked to comment on her achievements, Krysten humbly stated that she just wants to be a good role model to her new baby, who is expected to arrive this summer. Krysten is well on her way to achieving her dreams, and her teachers are so proud of everything she has accomplished!

Gabrielle Geist

Sir Robert Borden High School

Over the past four years, Sir Robert Borden High School has been significantly enriched by the many contributions of Gabrielle Geist. Gabrielle has a welcoming and gentle leadership style, and her ability to bring diverse groups of students together to create positive change is remarkable. Her notable contributions have included leadership roles in Student Council, Link Crew, and Relay for Life, and she has also taken on the responsibility of being yearbook editor and DECA Chapter Advisor. She has been instrumental in enhancing school spirit, building peer confidence and being a positive role model to other students. She has navigated many obstacles in service of other students, never turns down a challenge and always aims to make those around her feel valued. No matter how high she reaches, she is always exceptionally humble and often unaware of her incredible impact. Sir Robert Borden High School is a better place thanks to her tremendous character, integrity, enthusiasm and spirit!

Parash Gurung

Ridgemont High School

Parash Gurung is a dedicated, independent, and resilient learner who has touched many lives at Ridgemont High School. Though he has experienced many challenges throughout his life, he embraces life itself as an intricate journey. Parash thinks carefully about his learning and constantly challenges himself, reading widely and deeply across a range of subjects and philosophies. He challenges others to think critically as well, communicates effectively, and approaches all conversations and learning opportunities with respect and courage. Parash fully accepts, and is even motivated by, his own limitations, constantly seeing them as new opportunities for growth. He is always focused on the “bigger picture” and is purposeful, grateful, and humble in the face of anything that comes his way!

Jadon Ilukhor

Glebe Collegiate Institute

Jadon Ilukhor is an incredibly intelligent and well spoken student, and has consistently demonstrated his commitment to social justice and equity at Glebe Collegiate Institute and in the wider community. As a member, and now Co-President, of the Black Student Association (BSA), Jadon has continuously worked to find new ways to welcome all students to the group, especially grade 9 students and newcomers who may not yet have a strong social connection at school. Jadon creates a space where all students feel a sense of belonging, often saying that his favourite part about BSA is that students can hang out together and “just be." He is also an excellent Link Leader, supporting students in settling into high school. His passion for exploring issues surrounding equity is further evident in his involvement in Glebe's Theatre of the Oppressed, in the key role he played in organizing three successful Black History Months, and in his contributions to the OCDSB's Black Student Youth Forum. Jadon's leadership has had a wonderful and positive impact for students, for staff and for the larger school community!

Aidan Jones

Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School

Aidan Jones is a caring, positive young man who has worked diligently toward earning his High School Diploma. He is kind and helpful to his whole school community, and his perseverance and work ethic have allowed him to overcome many different challenges and become one of the most successful students in Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School’s skilled trades program! Aidan has earned a Specialist High Skills Major Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism, has worked hard at developing and his commitment to learning, and has cultivated a love and talent for cooking and baking. Because of Aidan’s belief in himself and his abilities, there is no doubt that he will find great success in the Culinary Program at Algonquin College. Aidan truly embodies all of the wonderful characteristics of a Sir Guy Knight!

Naomi Kapoor

John McCrae Secondary School

As one of this past year’s Student Council Presidents, Naomi Kapoor has worked endlessly to build community within both the Student Council and the school community at John McCrae Secondary School. Naomi’s positive and inclusive leadership style really set the stage to motivate the council team, where she helped lead initiatives focused on building a community of innovation, caring, and social responsibility. Naomi also led her team in the creation of two platforms to share news and celebrate student voice: she was co-producer of the school’s weekly video newsletter, The Bulldog Banter, and was instrumental in the creation of the Paw Print, a digital newspaper that celebrates student accomplishments. She also led a Sock drive for the Youth Services Bureau and delegated a social media campaign with a focus on mental health support for youth. She has nurtured many opportunities for other student leaders as well, a true testament to her maturity and positive spirit!

Jessie Larabie

Frederick Banting Secondary Alternate Program

At Frederick Banting Secondary Alternate Program, Jessie Larabie is known for her warm and trusting heart, and her incredible compassion for others. Jessie has overcome a number of obstacles as she worked towards graduation, but always engaged in the work required with determination and a never-give-up attitude! Whenever she encounters setbacks, she moves forward with integrity and positivity. Jessie is always willing to support those around her by sharing her thoughts, feelings and experiences, but is also very accepting of others. She is never afraid to ask for help, and recognizes this as a strength. She has expertly balanced her school work with a full time job at a long term care home, where her care and compassion for the residents has truly been inspiring! She is gentle, kind, dedicated, and resilient, taking pride in doing things completely and to the best of her ability. Her school community is incredibly proud and wishes her the best of luck in her post-secondary program, where she will undoubtedly follow her desire to improve the lives of others!

Byron McDonald

Richard Pfaff Alternate Program

Byron McDonald is a one-of-a-kind example of resilience, diligence and kindness at Richard Pfaff Alternate Program. His response to adversity has always been to face it head on, and learn as much as he can along the way. No matter what challenge he faces, Byron never fails to make those around him smile. He has participated in many activities and extracurriculars, including setting an example of the importance of physical and mental health in his school’s fitness program. He also demonstrated quiet, genuine and gifted leadership in programs like Youth Active Media and Blueprint For Life. Beyond this, Byron consistently showed respect and genuine care for the wellbeing of his peers, always finding a way to put those around him at ease. The empathy and integrity with which he conducts himself is an example for students and teachers alike! Whether within his comfort zone (programming modules, writing code) or outside of it (learning to dance, writing poetry), Byron excels by remaining positive and demonstrating a willingness to learn!

Aaya Mahdi

Ottawa-Carleton Virtual Secondary School

Aaya Mahdi has been a remarkably encouraging and engaged student leader at OCV Secondary School. She has been involved with summer camps, the Nepean, Rideau, and Osgoode Community Resource Centre (NROCRC), Kiwanis Club, Key Club, Student Council, Ottawa Virtual Secondary School Promotions team and The Virtual Voice student newspaper, where her attention to detail and active listening skills have been a great help to all. She is a strong liaison between these multi-generational community initiatives! If Aaya hears of a need within the community, she will find a way to mobilize a team to do something about it. She has a remarkable gift for bringing people together and empowering them to share their own ideas and voices. If Aaya were to learn that you wanted to take action on a particular problem, she would find out what your barriers to act are and help you overcome them. She would celebrate your achievements right alongside you, and cheer you on behind the scenes! Aaya cares deeply for her family and culture and has a powerful ability to truly listen to and empathize with others.

Declan Lo Monaco

Brookfield High School

Declan Lo Monaco truly exemplifies the skills, characteristics and leadership qualities Brookfield High School hopes to see in each of its graduates. Over the past four years, Declan has made a positive mark on many extra-curricular activities, including Curling, the Music Program, Grade 8 Nights, Student Council, and the International Certificate Program. Declan is a kind and caring student who collaborates with peers and staff to improve the school, is acutely aware of global economic issues and is passionate about sustainable development. Declan was even chosen as a youth ambassador by the United Nations Association in Canada, in order to help achieve sustainable development goals. He also initiated a “Waste-Free Lunch Challenge” at school that was held over several months, where exemplary perseverance helped engage more students in the challenge each day. Brookfield High School is grateful for Declan’s leadership, creativity, inclusivity and school involvement!

Jacob Naus

Hillcrest High School

Jacob Naus has been a pillar for the Hillcrest School Community over the past four years. He began by contributing to the school’s music program, where he volunteered much of his time with the National Capital Music Fest, was an active participant in the Orchestra program, and even represented Hillcrest at Nationals! In his senior years, Jacob found his passion for law and raising awareness about the societal issues faced by racialized Canadians. He has helped to coordinate his school’s Black History Month and Moose Hide campaigns, and has also been instrumental in bringing this awareness to grade 9 students through the school’s leadership program. Jacob is an amazing activist and leader who is always willing to lend a helping hand to any of his classmates or teachers. His classmates describe him as, "a friendly face that everyone is happy to see walk through the door or pop up on your screen!”

Alexia Pantieras

Colonel By Secondary School

Alexia is a kind, caring and compassionate student at Colonel By Secondary School. She is known for her creativity, enthusiasm, and ready smile, and has built many meaningful relationships with students and staff over the years. Alexia has demonstrated strength and leadership in her academics, in the arts, and in athletics, three of the pillars of education that are highly valued at Colonel By. She has also been a participant and valued mentor in theatre productions, and serves as co-host and producer of in-school and community television stations. Alexia has exemplified skills in collaboration, innovation, and communication, has been a reliable and effective leader in Student Council and at Leadership Camp, and has demonstrated global awareness through her participation in many fundraisers. Still, even with these many extracurricular pursuits Alexia has held herself to the highest academic standards, earning recognition on our Honour Roll for each of the past four years. Congratulations, Alexia!

Claire Peacock

Earl of March Secondary School

For the past four years, Claire Peacock has been a beacon of positivity at Earl of March Secondary School. By the time she reached grade 11, she was already leading school spirit events on the Student Council, and was a Builder with Leadership Camp. Claire is always ready for a challenge, taking initiative to figure out what needs to get done and expertly delegating tasks in order to execute large, successful events. This past year, Claire took on the role of Student Council Co-President and Head Builder for Leadership Camp, was the lead project coordinator for online grade 9 orientation, and supported a school-wide wellness week, multiple spirit weeks, student elections, and a holiday assembly. Her work ethic and uplifting spirit have helped the entire student body feel at ease in an ever-changing environment, and her grounded demeanor is both motivating and reassuring to her peers. She has always led by example through hard work and a desire to create positive change!

Borwaqo Mohamed Said

Woodroffe High School

Throughout her 4 years at Woodroffe High School, Borwaqo Mohamed Said has taught staff and students so much about the power of positivity and resilience. In her determination to learn, she has seized every opportunity presented to her with overwhelming enthusiasm. Borwaqo has been a proud student ambassador for her school, taking her role to heart and making a point to really know her community. Borwaqo never let a new student feel alone, always showing genuine interest in people, their stories, and their feelings. She has taken many new ELD students under her wing, making sure they feel welcome and celebrated. Her compassionate and open-minded nature have allowed her to work well with others and become a natural leader, and she extends this same love and care to her teachers. She has grown and succeeded with unparalleled humility, care, determination, and gratitude. Her kindness and genuine desire to lead others to success has left a true legacy at Woodroffe High School!

Ghina Salloum

Gloucester High School

Ghina Salloum is an outstanding student leader at Gloucester High School. When she arrived in grade 9, Ghina spoke limited English but easily communicated her joy and gratitude to all who met her. She has grown to take on some of the most challenging courses available, and has now accepted an offer to study Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa. An extremely hard-working and resilient individual, Ghina leads by example and spreads positivity in all she does. She is committed to her volunteer work with The Children for Peace Organization, and is a Link leader, math tutor, artist, mathlete and athlete! Ghina has been involved in every aspect of school life, including performances at multicultural shows, the MASC multicultural arts program, leading the intramural program, and cheering on her peers and teachers in all their pursuits. Ghina has also been on the honor roll for all four years of high school, and has won a Gloucester High School Character Award. Her contagious smile and positivity have inspired and motivated staff and students to have hope, even in our darkest moments. There is no doubt she will continue to make the world a brighter place in her future pursuits!

Hser Ma Ser

Ottawa Technical Secondary School

Hser Ma Ser is an outstanding student leader and role model at Ottawa Technical Secondary School. Her thoughtfulness and caring energy is contagious, allowing her to make meaningful connections with students and staff and motivate all to help build a culture of caring and excellence. In times of tension, Hser Ma helps her classmates feel calm and in control. When those around her are upset or sad, she shares hope and light. She leads by listening, and by helping others with her own unique spirit of generosity and compassion. Considering that Hser Ma has overcome many challenges over the years, it is incredible to witness her individual successes and the way she diligently supports others as well. She is a sensitive soul who views the world with acceptance and appreciation, connecting diverse groups and individuals in ways that increase their sense of well-being and safety within the school. Students and staff are so grateful for her contributions to the Ottawa Technical Secondary School community!

Emma Shimizu

South Carleton High School

Emma Shimizu embodies many important values in education, including initiative, integrity, perseverance, and a commitment to equity. Her presence has truly made South Carleton High School a better place to be! At a time when student motivation and leadership opportunities have been challenged by the pandemic, Emma has managed to not only embed herself within the school community, she has thrived while doing so. She is actively involved in the Link Crew, Student Council, and the Appreciation of Diversity Club, and creativity has even transformed some of these programs! Emma has achieved a Health and Wellness SHSM certificate, and is also an active ‘virtual reading buddy’ with young readers within the OCDSB. Her kindness, passion for equity, and drive to improve the social atmosphere of the student body has been incredible. The 2021 student experience of South Carleton High School has been thoroughly and positively impacted by Emma Shimizu!

Adriana Suuronen

Cairine Wilson Secondary School

Adriana Suuronen is a key member of many important groups and initiatives within Cairine Wilson Secondary School, including the Link Crew, Student Council, and Key Club. She has consistently shown great initiative, compassion for others, and genuine care for the school community, always looking for new ways to get involved and help make school a better place to be. Adriana is also a member of the Orleans Youth Advisory council, where she collaborates with local officials in order to have a positive impact on the wider community. In addition to her involvement in her school and community, Adriana is also a model student and cares deeply for academics, setting an excellent example for her peers!

Mya Trombley

Merivale High School

At Merivale High School, Mya Trombley is a highly motivated student who is always kind and compassionate towards her peers. This is especially evident in her outreach to fellow students experiencing challenges with at-home learning! She is incredibly respectful of others' opinions, which inspires productive and positive class discussions. Mya’s ability to formulate deep questions, analyse complex issues, and communicate findings has improved the learning environment for all. She is a critical thinker with an inquisitive mind, and has demonstrated an authentic and sustained interest in her academics and interscholastic athletics. Through many community engagement and volunteering commitments, Mya also applies and transfers her learning experiences into contributions to the larger community. As a volunteer contributor to a grad memory book for the Class of 2021, Mya and a group of fellow students have dedicated themselves to the recognition and celebration of their peers, especially when so much has changed over the past year. In everything she does, Mya’s positive outlook, team-centred perspective, and willingness to work hard make her a true leader!

Isabel Wackley

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School

Isabel Wackley is an excellent student and outstanding leader at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School. She has maintained a high academic standard while helping to build a sense of community and spirit within the school. Her enthusiasm is apparent through the many clubs and events that she has organized or participated in, including the volleyball team, Junior Band, Concert Band, Tour Band, Link Crew, Wind Ensemble, Leadership Camp Builder, Relay for Life, and Student Council. This year she took on the role of Student Council Co-president, and while many activities were limited by the pandemic, she still managed to cultivate a sense of belonging for students and help them have fun. Isabel has participated, organized, volunteered, and performed at many of our musical events, and has even volunteered to mentor younger musicians. She has been an outstanding mentor to her group of grade 9 students, helping them make meaningful connections with other students during a particularly difficult year. Isabel’s contributions as a dedicated student, incredible mentor and outstanding leader have had a significant impact on her entire school community!

Heather Weir

Norman Johnston Secondary Alternate Program

With her quiet determination and perseverance, Heather Weir is an excellent example of how hard work and consistency can help students reach their goals! She has overcome many challenges over the years, always striving to be a kind, dedicated and responsible member of the community and of Norman Johnston Secondary Alternate Program. She has taken charge of her learning, set big goals, solved problems with creativity, and holds herself accountable to succeed. Heather’s hard work really culminated this year, when she was accepted into every program she applied to for her post-secondary studies! With her lifelong passion for the environment and love for the outdoors, she will soon be studying to become an Environmental Technician. By setting personal and academic goals and working hard to achieve them, she is heading to college as a proud and confident graduate who is excited to make a difference!

Jeffrey You

Bell High School

In his four years at Bell High School, Jeffrey has consistently demonstrated his skills and dedication as a student leader. He has held a number of formal leadership positions, including Student Council Co-President, and has been an incredible advocate for student voice. Jeffrey has always strived to improve student communication and awareness of school events: this year he spearheaded his school’s student information portal, which has streamlined information for students and provided greater opportunities to stay engaged. He has also developed and led a number of student engagement initiatives, including virtual Bingo! Jeffrey has done an excellent job balancing his many leadership commitments with his academic commitments, and has consistently exceeded expectations. He has a contagiously positive attitude and always sees the best in others!

Excellence in Equity Student Recognition Award: Nominees

Raissa Amany

Colonel By Secondary School

Raissa Amany is an incredible leader within both Colonel By Secondary School and the wider community. Raissa’s many contributions to school life have consistently demonstrated global awareness and ethical decision-making. She was instrumental in the creation of YCO (Youth Connections Ottawa), Colonel By’s student well-being council, where her leadership has helped establish a climate that recognizes the influence student wellness, self-care and mindfulness can have on academic achievement. She is also coordinator of the Elevate Program, which focuses on student mental health while assisting in post-secondary preparation. As founder and president of ConnectSTEM, Raissa has created awareness and learning opportunities for youth in marginalized communities. She helps to raise awareness of the youth role in disaster risk reduction in the community: she has volunteered at the Ottawa Hospital and has been a Youth Cabinet member of the Youth Services Bureau Foundation. She has spent much of her time in high school intentionally pursuing opportunities which make a difference for youth, particularly those who have been traditionally underserved in education and community services!

Noah Anderson

Richard Pfaff Alternate Program

At Richard Pfaff Alternate Program and beyond, Noah Anderson is a strong leader with a kind voice and open heart. He is a champion for health and wellness, especially among those at risk in the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Noah volunteers his time towards harm-reduction work with the organization Max Ottawa, which promotes health and wellness within the gay community, and also supports his peers at the YSB school and the Young Men's shelter. He has hosted talks on safe sex, HIV prevention and naxalone training, and ensures that harm-reduction kits are available to those who need them. Noah is also trained in first-aid and has been on-site at YSB helping staff, clients and students with medical emergencies. He models positivity and confidence, promotes acceptance and helps advocate for the young men at the shelter. He is a strong supporter of queer youth and he understands the difficulties and obstacles that many young homeless 2SLGBTQ+ youth face. His passion and commitment to improving the lives of those most at-risk is truly exemplary!

Faith Aqiqi

Woodroffe High School

From the moment Faith Aqiqi walked through the doors of Woodroffe High School two years ago, she has been a force for change and transformation! Her leadership was critical to the success of the 2020 Black Student Forum, and she is one of two lead students for this year's Black Student Forum class. Faith has been called on many times to offer her leadership and expertise regarding the Black Student experience within the OCDSB, and has always found new ways to empower her peers while leading by example. She is very dedicated to her own studies, volunteers as a tutor in her community, and supports the home schooling of her two younger siblings. One of Faith’s teachers shares, “I have been inspired by her commitment to excellence, her activism, her organizational skills, and her ability to rally others to also see themselves as powerful agents of transformation!”

Dina Efrem

Nepean High School

Dina Efrem is an exceptional advocate for equity and social justice. She has been a member of Nepean High School's Diverse Student Union (DSU) since grade 9, and has helped organize the school’s Black History Month assembly and multicultural festival. In grade 10 her courageous work resulted in leadership roles on several DSU subcommittees, and in her graduating year she passionately served as the DSU’s co-head. She also facilitated and constructed bi-weekly lessons on anti-racism and hosted discussions on relevant topics, and with Dina’s help the DSU has made strong ties within the OCDSB and with other DSUs and Black Student Unions across the board. She has helped inform NHS educators on the importance of including Black joy, voices, and history in classes during Black History Month, and collaborates with school departments to ensure diverse perspectives are included in class. Dina is also one of the co-editors of Knightwatch, the school e- newspaper, which allowed her to write an article for the Kitchissippi Times on racial diversity and inclusivity at her school. Students and staff appreciate Dina’s commitment to equity and inclusion!

Shaniah Deliscar

Ridgemont High School

Shaniah Deliscar has demonstrated incredible leadership at Ridgemont High School. She has worked very hard over the years to make her school a safer, more welcoming, and more inclusive place for all students. She is a founding member of the school’s Black Student Union, where she has worked tirelessly to engage the student body and expand the group’s membership. She has been a very active supporter of the entire student body: As Co-President of the student Council, she ensures the student voice is always heard. Her work on student council and her quiet leadership in the classroom promotes and defends equity, and she has helped students really feel like they are part of their school community. In her senior year, which was significantly complicated by the pandemic, she has wholeheartedly promoted a sense of pride, connection, inclusivity and community!

Noah Do Régo

A.Y. Jackson Secondary School

Noah Do Régo is always looking for ways to empower others and encourage important discussions in class. At A.Y Jackson Secondary School, he has shared his own experiences with racism while also acknowledging his privilege, always encouraging others to fight against the injustices they see in the world. Noah accepts everyone for who they are, participates wholeheartedly in school activities, and is quick to lend a hand in class. He has offered lots of support to fellow students, helping his peers when they struggle to understand an assignment. Recently, Noah won XPRIZE’s Code Games Challenge with a thoughtful video game he created that featured a deeper message about human nature. He was one of two winners in Canada, chosen from 800 submissions from around the world! Noah is a wonderful student who never judges others, always helping staff and students to feel more comfortable even when discussing difficult topics, and his school community is grateful.

Diane Hatheway

Hillcrest High School

Diane Hatheway is a strong advocate for equity at Hillcrest High School. She is the school’s Equity Minister and has been head of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) for the past two years, promoting anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia within the school and community. She has been instrumental in bringing in speakers from the LGBTQ+ community to talk to the student population, and even organized an LBGTQ+ human library for staff members to learn from so they could better teach their students. She consults with student council, teachers, administration, and parent council to ensure that all school and club activities and events are accessible to all students, not just those who are white, cisgender, and/or able-bodied. One of Diane's lasting legacies at the school will be her advocacy for and opening of a gender-neutral washroom, and she has also appeared in the Ottawa Citizen advocating for equality of dress codes in our schools. Hillcrest will be left a better, more equitable place because of Diane!

Herve Kambale Ndina

Woodroffe High School

Herve Kambale Ndina is an exemplary student who has actively promoted a positive, safe and inclusive school climate. At Woodroffe High School, he is a student artist and leader committed to rising above typical social expectations, having established social networks that promote empathy and union among students. Herve is a gifted and humble performer, and his magnetic confidence allows everyone to feel as though they are one of his closest friends! This year, Herve took on a leadership role in Woodroffe’s first ever Ambassador’s Club, where he was welcoming to all students. He worked very hard to provide an open-minded, safe space wherein club members could freely express their thoughts, ideas and opinions. He has also been an energetic participant in our Black Legacy Month activities: in addition to helping organize, plan, and promote the event, he made daily school announcements to share inspirational biographies of Black Canadians. Herve is talented, responsible, open-hearted and takes every opportunity to take a stand for all, deeply modelling inclusion. He is an ambassador of extraordinary kindness, energetic positivity and fosters unity in everything he does!

Ainsley Lewis

Cairine Wilson Secondary School

Ainsley Lewis has been instrumental in getting Cairine Wilson Secondary School’s Race Relations group off the ground. She not only helped with the logo, promotion, and creation of posters and other promotional materials for the group, she even helped find its name (IDEA)! Ainsley is currently the lead organizer with the Tazimond foundation pad project in Uganda, and has taken on an amazing leadership role in this empowering opportunity. She has also been an active leader and participant in her school’s Club of Science. Ainsley promotes equity and excellence in all that she does, and her school community is grateful for her hard work!

Uyanda Mntambo

Lisgar Collegiate Institute

Uyanda Mntambo is an incredible student leader at Lisgar Collegiate Institute. Last June, she not only helped initiate the school’s first Town Hall on Anti-Black Racism, she ensured all town halls going forward continue to address racism. She is an executive member of the Student Council Day Events committee and was an organizer and facilitator for Lisgar’s Annual Day Against Injustice. As a leader in Stay Woke, Uyanda’s team ran a letter-writing campaign to defund the police and increase funding for youth mental health, organized highly successful Black History Month activities and virtual Black History Month Celebration, and developed curriculum for elementary students to address issues like microaggressions. Uyanda also volunteers with the Ottawa Food Bank, participated in the Youth Services Bureau Sleepout in 2018 and 2019, has volunteered with Equal Chance, and participated in the Afro WorldFest project as a motivational speaker and promoter. In addition, Uyanda took on a leadership role this year in the Black Youth Forum, where she booked speakers, mentored younger students and coordinated planning. Uyanda has truly shown that equity is part of who she is, and has used her voice to promote equity within her school and wider community!

Keito Newman

Glebe Collegiate Institute

Keito Newman's co-presidency of Glebe's Student Council began during the pandemic, and what he has been able to accomplish in such a short time is nothing short of incredible. His leadership style is welcoming and inclusive, as he sees everyone as unique individuals who have their own lived experiences and stories. He is approachable, respectful and honest, does everything he can to ensure his peers are successful, and is unafraid to ask tough questions and have uncomfortable conversations. Though ever humble and graceful, Keito is a wonderful role model to his peers. His contributions to equity at Glebe are many, including the Black Student Association, AHM organization, Celebrate Indigeneity, Link Crew, Best Buddies, sports teams, Stud-Co, SAO and the Theatre of the Oppressed. He also organized and planned a very successful panel discussion for Black History Month, which featured members of the community who are involved in organizations and initiatives that support Black folks. Keito is eager to support students of all races and abilities to find and use their voice!

Sarah Brophy

Norman Johnston Secondary Alternate Program

Sarah Brophy uses her creativity and talent for music as a vehicle to share her experiences, connect with others, and spread a beautiful message. She is a deaf musician who has released an album, “Mind over Matter” and is now working on one called “One Hundred and One Nights”, with both featuring songs about her experiences with mental illness and bullying. Sarah has a thirst for information and knowledge and always seeks out opportunities for personal growth, using what she learns to then campaign, educate, and advocate. She uses social media and streaming platforms to share her music, passion for mental health awareness, and experiences as a deaf musician. Recently, she started an online business teaching piano, vocals, guitar, and songwriting to youth, further sharing her passion and message of kindness, empathy, and caring. Whether she is creating songs about mental health and anti-bullying, volunteering with the School of Rock and Sing It Girls youth programs, or being a guest speaker at local schools, Sarah inspires and educates others with her kindness and compassion!

Luna Qammaniq

Ottawa Technical Secondary School

Luna Qammaniq is an outstanding advocate and leader at Ottawa Technical Secondary School and beyond. They are a leader and social justice champion for the Indigenous and 2SLGBTQ+ communities, which is evident in their active participation in the Ottawa Technical Secondary School All Nations group, Rainbow Room, and in programs offered by Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth, and Families. Luna has spoken eloquently and passionately at school assemblies and has inspired others to stand up for human rights, motivating others with their compassionate spirit and thoughtful outlook. Luna is a strong advocate for others: their strength of character is a source of strength and spirit at their school. Luna has excellent communication skills and demonstrates remarkable strength to lead through service, but what truly sets Luna apart is their sense of caring and compassion. Luna is always looking for ways to serve and help others, bringing light and hope into even the darkest situations. Luna understands that a true leader is driven by deep values, and as a result, has made a profound impact as an OCDSB equity leader and advocate!

Mashkura Tabassum-Tathoye

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School

At Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School, Mashkura Tabassum-Tahtoye has reached above and beyond to ensure those around her thrive and excel. Her leadership has helped build a community where support, acceptance and learning are the foundation: Not only did she play the integral role of Link leader and mentor to grade 9 students in her graduating year, she is also founder and creator of The Low Waste Project (TLWP), a youth-led social enterprise dedicated to introducing youth to environmental involvement. TLWP recently collaborated with the Electronic Recycling Association to help keep over 3000 e-waste items out of landfills, and Mashkura and the TLWP have created over 400 opportunities for youth to be more environmentally engaged! To help make a difference during the pandemic, Mashkura also began volunteering for Impact Without Contact, a organization that creates virtual-volunteer opportunities for youth. She has designed “Thank You” cards for Staff at the Montfort Hospital, been part of the #Youaremyhero appreciation video, and learned how to sew masks for front-line employees. She is also a Phone Intake Volunteer with Operation Ramzieh, a crisis relief organization, and has organized the collection of PPE donations and social media support for local businesses. Mashkura’s passion for what she believes in is contagious, and the way she motivates, engages and encourages those around her is second to none!

Julia Winterhalder

Sir Robert Borden High School

Julia Winterhalder is a valued member of many advocacy groups at Sir Robert Borden High School. She is leader of the Rainbow Youth Club, is a Link Crew leader, and is active in environmental clubs and debate clubs as well. In the wider community she is a UNAC mentor, and in November 2020 was one of four Canadian representatives for the Jeju Youth forum. She demonstrates exemplary leadership skills, is a mentor to younger students and is a fearless advocate for social justice and human rights. Julia is an agent of change: She works tirelessly to make her school a more comfortable and welcoming place for everyone through her advocacy for inclusivity in school spaces. She embodies equity and inclusion in all that she does, and leads with dignity, cooperation and collaboration. Julia’s teachers and peers are very proud as she continues on her journey to make the world a better place through her goal of being a human rights lawyer!

Excellence in Equity Student Recognition Award: Winners

Uyanda Mntambo

Winner, Excellence in Equity Student Recognition Award

Lisgar Collegiate Institute

Luna Qammaniq

Winner, Excellence in Equity Student Recognition Award

Ottawa Technical Secondary School