Mayor for a Day

Merivale High School Students Experience Being “Mayor For a Day”
Posted on 06/17/2022

Two Merivale High School students were awarded the opportunity to experience a day as mayor of Ottawa. Dayna X. and Sam B. entered the Mayor For A Day contest hosted by Mayor Jim Watson, Youth Ottawa, and the City of Ottawa, which challenged youth to submit an essay and video sharing their vision for Ottawa over the next 50 years.

Dayna and Sam, both in grade 9, were selected as this year's winners, and spent a day at City Hall in May. They joined Mayor Watson for a tour of the building and its history, attended city meetings, and had conversations with the Mayor and City Council members about community issues. They also visited the Ottawa Art Gallery, and they even tried their hand at conducting a train in the OC Transpo's LRT simulator! CTV Ottawa caught up with the students during their experience.

In addition to providing a unique leadership opportunity, the contest invites youth to have their say on civic issues that are important to them. Ideas from all participants help inform the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee's Youth Action Plan.

Dayna's essay explored ways that the city could better educate community members about racism and discrimination, such as workshops for diversity and inclusion. She also suggested community events inviting specialists to engage the public in environmental issues. 

Sam's essay envisioned more community involvement, such as an outdoor interactive art installation. She also recommended addressing environmental issues and urban sprawl by building denser neighbourhoods with public transit.

The students had a great experience at City Hall and encourage other youth to seize these opportunities to get involved. Here's what they had to say about their Mayor For A Day journey:

“I felt really included in my local community. I think it’s really important to participate in democracy, no matter how big or small, because even at the smallest level, it really impacts our daily lives.” - Sam

“I had so many opportunities to develop soft skills and foster connections with others. It was truly an amazing experience, and the main takeaway was how much I learned and how much fun I had.” - Dayna

Thank you to Youth Ottawa, the City of Ottawa, and Mayor Watson for making this opportunity possible! 

To learn more about the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee (OYEC), visit the Youth Ottawa website. Youth Ottawa is looking for members to join the 2022 - 2023 OYEC cohort. The committee educates youth about the functions of municipal government, brings youth ideas to municipal decision-making, and encourages youth engagement on issues important to them. Youth can apply to be either Youth Leaders or Youth Network Members. Leaders meet monthly to discuss topics with community leaders and city officials, while Network Members receive the OYEC newsletter and invitations to special OYEC events. If you are interested in bringing your voice and ideas forward, please visit

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