By Jacob Hoytema –
Before the Canada 150 festivities settle into the history books, Ottawa Centre’s Member of Parliament, Catherine McKenna, wants to mark the occasion by decorating active community members with a small piece of local history.
For this year’s sesquicentennial celebrations, each MP was given a set of pins, minted from the old copper roofs of West Block, to distribute to their constituents. Catherine decided to use her thirty pins as awards for involved citizens in three categories: youth leaders, community builders, and employers of youth. After weathering 80 years of Ottawa’s climate, the recycled and re-polished copper will shine another day on the lapels of recipients at an award ceremony later this fall.
The awards, ten for each category, will be presented in November based on nominations from Ottawa Centre constituents. Catherine recently reached out to the Kitchissippi Times to encourage residents of our ward to submit nominations for deserving citizens.
It seems that various MPs were given the opportunity to allot the small medallions to constituents by whatever means they saw fit. While two of Catherine’s chosen categories — youth leaders and community leaders — are somewhat to be expected, it is the third category — youth employers — that stands out. Catherine explained that youth unemployment has been an important issue for her since the election, so she wanted to recognize local job creators who take on young workers.
“We’ve had really good discussions through our youth council, hearing from young people directly about the importance of good employers — not just getting any job, but a job where your employer values you, they train you, you get some experience,” Catherine explained.
She said that overall, it shouldn’t be difficult to find constituents qualified for the other categories either.
“We have a lot of not-for-profit organizations, a lot of local businesses that are really changing things, we have great universities,” she says. “I thought it would be great to recognize people that maybe you don’t hear about all the time.”
To qualify for one of the ten “youth” awards, nominees must be under age 25. The “community builders” category is more broad, encompassing simply the residents “that care about the community and are willing to go the extra mile to make it even better.”
She also mentioned that she hopes to receive nominations specifically related to diversity, Indigenous reconciliation, and environmentalism — three of the federal government’s themes for Canada 150.
The various copper roofs on Parliament Hill have been changed several times before. Most recently, visitors to the Hill have probably noticed the newer panels topping the freshly renovated West Block.
The metal that yields these pins is of a much older stock — specifically, it dressed West Block’s roof from 1918-1996.
To nominate a young leader, a youth employer, or a community builder who lives in Ottawa Centre, visit the “Canada 150 Awards” page at . Nominations are accepted until October 31.