Part of the role of the NCC is to make sure that our nation’s capital reflects Canadians in all aspects of the work that it does: long-term plans, green spaces, buildings and properties, programs and activities. This also means ensuring that the Capital is relevant to Canadians, and responds to the diversity of the population. For this reason, the NCC offers several engagement initiatives to involve young people in concrete actions to create positive change, as well as to experience and help define the Capital.
Student Job Opportunities
The NCC creates meaningful employment opportunities for youth who want to take an active role in building Canada’s Capital. Throughout the year, the NCC hires more than 100 students to meet specific operational needs:
- Interpretation at Rideau Hall and the Mackenzie King Estate
- Customer service at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre
- Technical support, data collection and monitoring with our land manager’s team
- Support in content creation and management of NCC social media accounts
Want to get involved? See our careers page for student job opportunities.
Are you a biology major? You can gain valuable fieldwork experience and have an opportunity to apply your knowledge in the Greenbelt or Gatineau Park as a student biologist at the NCC. Projects such as monitoring for species at risk, assisting in scientific research and conducting road mortality surveys are offered. Find out first-hand about life as an NCC student biologist. Read our blog post. Want to get involved? See our careers page for student job opportunities.
Also, youth partnership initiatives at the NCC include field camps within the Greenbelt, academic research and lectures. Recently, the NCC has collaborated with
- universities (Trent, Guelph, McGill, Université du Québec, Carleton)
- colleges (Cité collégiale and Algonquin College)
- the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA)
- Ecology Ottawa
- the Nature Conservancy of Canada
- recreational youth associations
NOKIA Sunday Bikedays
Want to volunteer your time, as well as get outside and enjoy car-free scenic parkways in the Capital? Every Sunday morning between the Victoria Day weekend and the Labour Day weekend, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts take part in NOKIA Sunday Bikedays. More than 50 kilometres of scenic parkways in the heart of the Capital and Gatineau Park are closed to motor vehicles and open for cyclists, in-line skaters, runners and walkers. About 11 percent of NOKIA Sunday Bikedays participants are between the ages of 18 and 34. Our sponsors and volunteers are the heart of Sunday Bikedays, and it could not take place without their support.
Young Entrepreneurs Program
Got a great business idea? Or, want to hone your business savvy? Since 2017, the NCC has offered the Young Entrepreneurs Program. This program gives children and youth between the ages of 5 and 17 an opportunity to gain business experience by operating a kiosk on NCC parkways during the popular NOKIA Sunday Bikedays. Participants first take part in a fun training workshop by JA Ottawa, and then receive a free permit to run a kiosk, selling refreshments or treats, for example, at key areas along the parkways. Participants also donate a portion of their proceeds to local charities like the Ottawa Humane Society and CHEO.
Want to get involved? See our Call for Young Entrepreneurs, in May.
Rideau Canal Skateway
Volunteer at a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and the world’s largest skating rink! Each winter, the historic Rideau Canal becomes a 7.8-kilometre skating rink, with an area equal to 90 Olympic hockey rinks. Winding its way through the heart of Canada’s Capital, from downtown to Dows Lake, the Rideau Canal Skateway is one of the official sites for Winterlude, the Capital’s winter celebration, each February. A national icon and source of pride for Canadians, the Skateway hosts national and international events, and provides the ideal venue for showcasing Canadian winter traditions. About 29 percent of Skateway users are aged 16 to 34, and the NCC is always looking for youth volunteers to act as skate patrollers and Skateway information officers. Skate patrollers administer first aid and offer safety tips to skaters, and information officers let skaters know about services and activities on the Skateway.
Want to get involved? Contact our Volunteer Centre today!
Multi-Use Capital Pathways
You can volunteer to help patrol one of the largest pathway networks in North America. The Capital Pathway network includes more than 600 kilometres of multi-use paths linking superb natural areas, parks, gardens, museums and attractions, and extending from Gatineau Park, through Ottawa and into the Greenbelt. About 22 percent of pathway users are young people aged 16 to 34, and the NCC is always looking for more youth volunteers on the pathways. Pathway patrollers help ensure that your outing is safe and enjoyable. They can provide directions, information, first aid and emergency care, and basic equipment repairs. Pathway patrollers include the Ottawa Police, Gatineau Police, RCMP and volunteers from the City of Ottawa’s volunteer pathway patrol and Vélo-Services’ volunteer pathway patrol.
Want to get involved? Contact our Volunteer Centre today!
Gatineau Park Outdoor Experiences and Youth Education Programs
Explore the natural wonders of Gatineau Park with qualified nature interpreters! There are five different educational activities for school groups in beautiful Gatineau Park, just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. Nature interpreters teach students about environmental conservation and protecting our natural heritage. Students learn how their actions have an impact on the environment and about the importance of biodiversity. “Gatineau Park Animals Tell It Like It Is” is a role-playing activity led by a naturalist, which takes place in the classroom. It is offered in November to schools in Canada’s Capital Region. Programs have links to Ontario and Quebec curriculum, including science and technology, physical education, language arts, and social sciences.
Nature education programs in Gatineau Park reach several hundred youth each year through the following:
- Family-oriented public programming
- Mackenzie King Estate (several thousand per year)
- Visits and lectures for college and university students
- New Canadian program for foreign students
- Youth ambassador program in Gatineau Park — Volunteer patrolling and outreach on trails
You can also contribute to Gatineau Park by volunteering with the Friends of Gatineau Park.
Canada's Capital Greenbelt
With forests, wetlands, streams, sand dunes and abundant biodiversity — the Greenbelt’s 20,000 hectares of green space protects natural areas in Canada’s Capital, forming a semicircular “emerald necklace” south of Ottawa’s downtown core. The Greenbelt is a living classroom, a place of discovery and environmental education. Each year, more and more students from local schools are visiting the Greenbelt to learn about the wonders of the natural environment, such as Pinhey Sand Dunes, Mud Lake or Mer Bleue.
Want to get involved? Contact our Volunteer Centre today!
August Is Archaeology Month
Every year in August, the NCC invites students to take part in archaeological digs. Take part in digs at Leamy Lake Park and the Moore Farm — sites where archaeologists are working to learn more about the pre-contact period (i.e. prior to the arrival of Europeans).
Want to get involved? Contact our Volunteer Centre today !
Other Examples of NCC Youth Engagement Initiatives
The NCC’s youth engagement initiatives recognize young people’s right to participate in decisions that impact them, and acknowledge the important skills and strengths they bring to the table. It brings young people in as valued stakeholders in creating effective and inclusive plans, programs and environments in Canada’s Capital.
The Urbanism Lab
The Urbanism Lab offers great opportunities to connect with youth in a creative way, and gives youth a voice through presentations, interactive workshops, educational events and public discussions. Here are some recent events organized with networks, academics, youth organizations and young people:
- School Poster Contest — Save the Pinhey Sand Dunes, in collaboration with the educational program of Biodiversity Conservancy International
- Carleton University Forum Lecture Series: Daniel Libeskind
- Queen’s University Urban Design Workshop
- Youth Engagement in City Building with Wingd
Don’t miss our upcoming events. Subscribe to our Public Engagement Newsletter today!
Paint It Up! Program
The Champlain Bridge mural in the Westboro Beach tunnel under the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway was completed by local youth volunteers in 2016. The tunnel had been a fairly regular target of graffiti, and the NCC, which owns the tunnel, approved the Westboro Beach Community Association’s pitch to beautify it. This project was implemented in partnership with the NCC and Crime Prevention Ottawa’s Paint It Up! Program, through the City of Ottawa.
Youth Outreach and Participation in Public Consultations
The Plan for Canada's Capital
The signature planning framework shaping the vision for the nation’s capital to Canada’s bicentennial in 2067
As part of the consultation process for the Plan for Canada’s Capital, the NCC heard from approximately 9,000 high school students from across the country. This was the result of a partnership with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Historica Canada’s “Encounters With Canada” program. The same year (2010), the NCC, in collaboration with the Governor General of Canada, hosted a youth dialogue to launch the International Year of Youth in Canada’s Capital. About 160 youth shared their ideas about building a more inspiring and inclusive capital, and becoming agents of change within their community. Here is a video recap of the event:
Restoring the Pinhey Sand Dunes
The Pinhey Sand Dunes are the region’s only inland sand dune complex. This rare ecosystem has survived over 10,000 years, and is life sustaining, as it is home to many plants and animals that rely on its unique natural features. NCC worked to restore the Pinhey Sand Dunes, in partnership with the City of Ottawa, the Trillium Foundation of Ontario, Biodiversity Conservancy International and groups of tireless community volunteers. In 2015–2016, the NCC also formed a partnership with Carleton University, and helped to engage close to 1,000 students to advance the restoration and expansion of the Pinhey Sand Dunes, while learning about the valuable biodiversity of the site.
Event Partnerships That Support Youth
The NCC issues approximately 300 event permits a year. These range from large festivals to smaller-scale events. Large festivals and events: the Ottawa Children’s Festival, Ottawa International Jazz Festival, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, Festival franco-ontarien, Ottawa Race Weekend, Canada Army Run and the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival. On a smaller scale, the NCC issues permits for events that
support many youth groups and charities: The Walk So Kids Can Talk event in support of the Kids Help Phone, and the Motomax Outaouais event in support of the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada.
Recreational Leases and Agreements That Support Youth
The NCC has over 1,600 properties. Through our recreational agreements, these properties represent exceptional opportunities for youth throughout the Capital Region. We partner with local municipalities, educational institutions, NGOs, and not-for-profit and sporting associations to provide a healthy and active lifestyle for visitors and residents in Canada’s Capital Region. The following are few examples.
- Schools, daycares, programs and summer camps: Montessori schools, Richard Robinson Haute Couture, Ottawa School of Art
- Educational programs: Just Food Farm, Moore Farm, Mer Bleue partnership
- Clubs: Rideau Canoe Club, Ottawa Rowing Club, Lac Deschênes Sailing Club, Wesley Clover Equestrian Centre, Rideau Tennis Club, Ottawa New Edinburgh Club