New Awards Program Celebrates Canada’s Youngest Changemakers

Nominations are now open for “The Future is NOW! Awards”, celebrating the top 10 young trailblazers who are forging a brighter future for all Canadians.

February 21, Toronto, ON – Nominations have opened for the inaugural The Future Is NOW! Awards to celebrate the accomplishments of Canada’s youngest young changemakers. The awards recognize diverse young leaders driving social impact on issues that matter most to Generation Z, including: mental health, racism and discrimination, climate change, reconciliation, bullying, physical activity and more. Winners will be announced at a star-studded event on May 7, 2024, where they will receive financial awards to support their cause and benefit from year-round coaching and mentorship to increase their social impact.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau serves as the Honourary Patron for the awards, and Peter MacKay, Counsel at McInnes Cooper and former Parliamentarian, alongside Nazanin Afshin-Jam, human rights activist, are the Honourary Co-Chairs. “Canada’s future depends on the investments that we make in children today. The awards bring much needed attention to the urgent challenges that our kids are facing, and the initiative they’re taking to build a more equitable and prosperous country for us all to live in,” says Peter MacKay and Nazanin Afshin-Jam.

The event, which has been dubbed “the Oscars for social impact,” will begin with a Young Changemakers Summit with 50 diverse young leaders from across Canada, culminating with a walk down the red carpet and awards show celebrating the top 10 U18 changemakers, with appearances by Canadian icons, musicians, celebrated athletes, political leaders and other luminaries.

Nominees must be under 18 years of age as of May 7, 2024, have lived in Canada for at least one year, and demonstrated their commitment to promoting or defending children’s rights and improving the lives of young Canadians. The deadline to nominate a child/youth for the awards is 5 p.m. ET on March 20th, 2024. The applications will be judged by a jury comprised of both adults and youth. More information about the nomination process can be found in The Future Is NOW! Awards FAQ.

The Future is NOW! is spearheaded by the national charity, Children First Canada (CFC), in consultation with its Youth Advisory Council, and are made possible thanks to the support of the Government of Canada, KPMG, TELUS and Canadian Tire / Jumpstart. CFC acts as a catalyst to ensure every child in Canada thrives – now and for generations to come – by protecting their rights and equipping them as the leaders of today and tomorrow. “Kids are Canada’s greatest natural resource, and they deserve our respect and support,” says Sara Austin, Founder and CEO of Children First Canada. “We hope these awards not only recognize youth who are courageously leading the charge, but also inspire others to rise as leaders of social change.”

As the Minister of Youth, it is incredible to see initiatives like The Future is NOW! Awards that acknowledge the positive impact that young Canadians make from coast to coast to coast,” says Marci Ien, Minister of Women, Gender Equality and Youth. “Our government is proud to get behind opportunities that empower young people to be active participants in their communities. We’ve seen firsthand how the dedication of young leaders, investing their time and energy into causes that speak to them, can benefit others, our environment, and their own personal journeys. Good luck to everyone being nominated and thank you for all that you do.’’

“We will be looking for young people who demonstrate values of courage, collaboration, equity, diversity and inclusion,” says Toney Bedell, a long-time Youth Ambassador with Children First Canada and member of the awards’ jury. “We can’t wait to celebrate and support youth who are blazing a trail and working to make their communities and our country a better place for all!”

For more information, or to set up an interview, please contact:
Andrea Chrysanthou

Opportunities to sponsor/donate to support the Future is NOW! Awards are available by contacting:

About Children First Canada
Children First Canada is a national charity that aspires to create a country where children can grow up free from the barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential – starting with the protection of their most basic rights to childhood. As a charity that’s uniquely focused on the rights of children in Canada, we aim to raise awareness of the issues through research and campaigns, we equip young Canadians as the leaders of today and tomorrow, and we unite our country around a shared vision and plan to make this the best place in the world for kids to grow up!