Youth Advisory Council
The BBBSC Youth Council is a consortium of young people from across the country that have knowledge and expertise in mentoring. This Youth Council is involved in initiatives such as our Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) – a collaborative effort between the Council Members, Big Brothers Big Sisters staff and external youth-serving agencies which aims to improve mentoring opportunities for the mentored youth in Canada through youth involvement. We are exhilarated by our youth engagement efforts and are looking forward to the future of mentoring in Canada.
Keyla Ange Keza (Surrey, British Columbia)
Keyla was born in Kigali, Rwanda, and came to Canada at the age of 4 with her family. She is currently attending Capilano University, studying international development and hopes to make a positive impact in the world. She comes from a family of survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and is passionate about creating healthy environments that encourage dialogue and reconciliation. For the past 2 years, she has been involved with the Fresh Voice Initiative which advocates for policy changes in education and immigration for youth in British-Columbia from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. She has been a Little Sister for over 4 years and has recently joined the BBBS Youth Mentoring Advisory Council. She recently completed a theology program which centres on religious studies and local and international community work. Keyla’s hobbies include sleeping, eating, attempting to finish reading books from her long book list and watching documentaries. She is so grateful for the opportunity to work with all of the other amazing youth on the council as they make a positive difference in the world together.
Nafeel Arshad (Fraser Valley, British Columbia)
Nafeel was born in Multan, Pakistan, and came to Canada with his parents when he was only one. He’s currently attending his first year at the University of The Fraser Valley, studying Kinesiology and aspires to one day become a doctor and treat people around the world. He enjoys volunteering and relishes the opportunity on making the community he lives in a better place. He has volunteered with different organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters; his local retirement home; his high schools youth council; and of course now being a part of National Youth Mentoring Advisory Council. Nafeel is very passionate on many social issues, such as racism, segregation, and religious extremism, and he relishes the opportunity for making the community he lives in a better place.
Walker Wearden (Grande Prairie, Alberta)
Walker was raised in the small village of Berwyn, Alberta, and hopes to begin his post-secondary education at the University of Alberta taking biological sciences and later finding a career in medicine. He has been involved in many groups including his high school’s First Responders, Student Council and most recently the Big Brothers and Big Sisters teen mentorship program, as well as the National Youth Mentoring Advisory Council. He has been a Big Brother for over two years and enjoys volunteering to create a better community. Aside from volunteering, Walker enjoys reading, woodworking, and traveling to places with a population above five hundred. He is proud to be on the BBBS Youth Mentoring Advisory Council and take part in all the meaningful work that they have and will accomplish.
Ashley Whiteman (Edmonton, Alberta)
Ashley Whiteman is a high school graduate who is passionate about supporting her community. At school, she was part of several different programs and committees such as the Jean Forest Leadership Academy, Personalized Self-Directed Learning, and the Student Union; she also mentored through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, Social Justice, and was involved in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a student facilitator. Outside of school, Ashley supports her community through the Edmonton Police Cadet Corps, sits on youth panels, including the City of Edmonton Youth Council subcommittee on Social Equity, and assists senior citizens in their daily activities. As well, she is a youth representative on the Prime Minister’s Youth Council.
Anna Urquiza (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
Anna is attending the University of Saskatchewan. She has always had a passion for art and helping those in need. Anna has always wanted to pursue an education career, specifically to teach younger children the true value of education and learning about different cultures. She has also been a mentee with Big Brothers Big Sisters, with her same mentor for 10 consecutive years! Anna hopes to provide as much as she can to youth as far as teaching and continuing to be an active volunteer and member of Big Brothers Big Sister’s Youth Advisory Council.
Brianna Boyse – (Portage La Prairie, Manitoba)
Brianna is currently studying Recreation Management & Community Development at the University of Manitoba. She pursues writing, poetry and attending spoken word events, and dance in many styles (her main style being hip-hop but she will try any style once!). She loves going on day trips with family that involve hiking and being outdoors. She describes herself as someone who has lots of energy, and strives to be friendly and warm towards everyone she crosses paths with. Turtles, horror thriller movies/books, and a love of animals round out her other passions.
Karine Pomilia Gauthier (Cornwall, Ontario)
Karine is a student at the University of Ottawa, where she is pursuing a Joint Honours degree in Political Science and Communications. Concurrently, she also works at the Parliament of Canada as a tour guide. She hopes to continue working for Parliament, possibly as an MP in the future. Needless to say, Karine Pomilia is passionate about politics and hopes to see more youth involved in the field. She, herself, first got involved in politics through Big Brothers Big Sisters. She remains very involved with the organization and hopes to give youth the confidence to be the change they want to see in the world.
Nicole Mensah (Brampton, Ontario)
Nicole is a high school student who has dedicated her past four years to acts of volunteering and community involvement (including an in-school mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel!). She is currently a member of the Region of Peel’s first Black Youth Advisory Council, and an ambassador for the Black Youth School Success Initiative. She has traveled to Cambodia with her school’s Social Justice Team where she helped build water systems, and contributed in raising over 1000lbs in donations of school supplies. In the future, Nicole hopes to pursue a career in health sciences, and to continue to advocate for social issues.
Rivka Savage (Toronto, Ontario)
Rivka is passionate about empowering youth. She has had a consistent role as a Big Sister with the Pumped for Post Sec program since 2016. Rivka is currently studying Human Resources at George Brown College where in addition to her studies she works part-time as a career readiness peer coach assisting her fellow students. She gives to her community unconditionally by regularly donating her blood and her hair to worthy causes.
Renee Campbell (Pictou County, Nova Scotia)
Renee is currently enrolled at NSCC Pictou Campus in the Social Service program. Her dream is to work with children and adults with disabilities or with people who have addictions. She has been matched with her Little Sister since December 2016. Her father was also a Big Brother when he was her age, and that is one of the many reasons why she was inspired to join this program. Renee’s hobbies include hockey, art, being out in nature, doing volunteer work, and spending time with friends.
Kristen Dyson (St. John’s, Newfoundland)
Kristen is from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, although she is originally from Brampton, Ontario. She is a graduate student at Memorial University where she is pursuing a Masters degree in Applied Psychological Sciences. Her research interests include global health policy, and Alzheimer’s disease. Kristen has been a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2016, participating in both Go Girls and the In-school mentoring program. Outside of mentoring, Kristen is an active foster and volunteer with Beagle Paws Rescue NL, and is passionate about the right to education and how the power of education and learning can tackle issues of poverty, segregation, racism and political injustice.
Charlotte Gardiner (St. John’s, Newfoundland)
Charlotte was born and raised in the small town of Glovertown, Newfoundland. She currently lives in St. John’s, NL, where she is a student at Memorial University’s School of Social Work. She hopes to pursue a career in Social Work and make an impact on social justice in Canada and internationally. She is a photographer, travel blogger, and an active volunteer in her community. For the past four years, she has been involved with the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council, where she helps to implement programs and supports for newcomers in Newfoundland and Labrador and make the province a more welcoming place. She has been a GoGirls mentor for several years with Big Brothers Big Sisters and enjoys every minute of it. Charlotte is excited to become more involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a member of the youth council.