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On July 1, 2017, Canada will officially celebrate the momentous occasion of its 150th anniversary. This is a remarkable milestone in our nation’s history and also a year in which a vast array of celebrations and forms of recognition are taking place across the country to honour Canada, its values and its people. There is so much rich and diverse history that has contributed to making Canada what it is today, and as we reflect on these aspects of the past, it is also important to turn a focus ahead on the individuals, moments and endeavours that will continue to define and advance our nation in the years and generations to come.

RBC is proud and excited to honour Canada’s 150th anniversary and the bright prospect of the next generations through its Make 150 Count campaign. “We’re celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary by showcasing the people who will lead and shape our country’s future,” says Mary DePaoli, chief brand and communications officer at RBC. “Our Make 150 Count initiative will bring to life the power and ideas of young people and how they build prosperity in communities across our great nation.”

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This initiative takes a focus-forward approach, engaging youth and empowering them to positively impact their communities and beyond, encouraging them to make a difference. Over the course of the year as part of the Make 150 Count campaign, RBC employees will choose over 3,000 young Canadians between the ages of 16 and 25 from all areas and regions of the country, giving them $150 with one simple request: to do something great with it — no strings attached.

Through this national movement, RBC hopes to shine a light on the potential that every youth across Canada has, reinforcing the importance and value of providing opportunities and investing in younger generations. Already, this initiative has been incredibly successful, and RBC is beyond proud of the youth who have been involved and the remarkable positive impact that has stemmed from this campaign. Here are just a handful of the inspiring stories of what some youth have done with the $150.

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Ailyn, Ontario

Ailyn is an artist who creates one-of-a-kind ceramic pieces in collaboration with elements of nature, and her story perfectly combines the values of artistry, philanthropy, nature and the spirit of giving. Inspired by Make 150 Count, Ailyn embarked on a project she called “Pay it Forward with Plants and Pottery,” hand-making several pots and growing plants for each of them. Ailyn then gave her art pieces away, asking for only one thing in return: that people write down a good deed they intend to fulfill and pay it forward. “What we do, no matter how big or small, creates waves that carry on past our own immediate impact. This project is still ongoing because for every action, we continue to pay the kindness forward,” shares Ailyn.

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Roxanne, Ontario

At 16, Roxanne has already faced challenges far beyond her years, having been diagnosed with cancer and going through chemotherapy in 2015. During her chemo, she found great strength and positivity from the nurses who would go the extra mile to make her smile and brighten her day by hanging posters in her room. With her Make 150 Count, Roxanne bought posters and movies for the kids going through chemo at McMaster’s Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, knowing that the smallest gesture can have such a large impact. “Through my experience, I’ve realized that smiling and laughter truly are the best medicine,” she shares.

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Marie-Pier, Quebec

Marie-Pier takes pride in being an ideas person, and volunteering and the spirit of giving are simply in her nature; in her words, “I like being present for people.” With her Make 150 Count, she gave back to those in need within her community, purchasing winter coats and boots for two young girls whose family did not have the resources to buy proper winter clothing.

These beautiful, motivational and often emotional stories exemplify that when we invest in youth, great things happen. To find out more about Make 150 Count or to read or view more of these phenomenal stories, please visit our website.

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Neil, Alberta

Neil is very passionate about helping children and giving them opportunities to experience adventures and activities. “Experiences have played such a massive role in my life and serve as some of the best memories I have, so I take pride in helping kids attend things they wouldn't normally get to do,” he shares. Through Make 150 Count, Neil decided to take a number of deserving children for a fun evening out at Zoo Lights, an attraction in Calgary where the zoo is transformed into a magical wonderland with over 1.5 million lights.

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Lara, Saskatchewan

Lara’s family immigrated to Canada from South Africa when she was two years old. “I love living in Canada, and am very honoured to be part of the Make 150 Count campaign,” she shares. With her $150, Lara put together a video of girls in her school showcasing what empowers them. “Whether it’s reading, sports, performing or shopping, I wanted to help improve their self-esteem and build empowerment among girls in my community.”

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Bryn, Ontario

A fourth-year student at Western University, Bryn is passionate about health, research, leadership and the outdoors, and is one day hoping to work in health policy to help minority groups. With her Make 150 Count, she is planning to hold a health seminar at the Halton Women’s Place, a community-based organization that provides shelter and crisis services for women and their children. “My main objective is to focus on achieving improved nutrition for the women and children while still on a budget. I plan to teach this by sharing knowledge on important nutrients, and providing affordable and easy meal examples,” she shares. Bryn also plans to include an information pamphlet and gift bag with relevant products to maximize the impact of her seminar.