Future List 2022: Young leaders worth watching
People & Places

Future List 2022: Young leaders worth watching

In addition to people with decades of experience on their resumes, the Future List shines a light on young leaders doing exceptional things. Here, we look at the backgrounds and ambitions of four people in Ottawa starting off on interesting ventures that are sure to enrich the fabric of our city.

Left: filmmaker Serena Manouchehri; right: Catherine Gingras is aiming to reduce food waste through her company, Noovie.

“Honestly, I didn’t really think it was real,” says 17-year-old Serena Manouchehri of her win at this year’s Indie Short Fest in Los Angeles.

Her 20-minute film, The Movie Theatre, was shot late last year in a variety of Ottawa locations including the Mayfair Theatre on Bank Street. As the scriptwriter and director, Manouchehri uses dream sequences to explore issues such as relationship anxiety and family turmoil.

“Close friends, behind closed doors, talk about that kind of stuff and open up. It’s really hard to hear sometimes,” she says.

The film relied mostly on volunteers, many of them from Nepean High School where Manouchehri is a grade 12 student. Her parents paid for a professional crew. Serena’s father, Ali Manouchehri, says the initial budget was only $2,500 but rose to $10,000. It paid off, as the buzz surrounding The Movie Theatre has already led to more opportunities – earlier this year, Bell Media hired her to direct four episodes of an upcoming television show called Teenage Fever.

“We take rescued fruit and vegetables that are imperfect, so they are not being bought in grocery stores, and we are revitalizing them,” says Catherine Gingras, a 20-year-old business student at the University of Ottawa. Her company, Noovie, produces sorbets and jams in small batches out of “rescued” produce. 

Gingras formed Noovie several years ago after reading a report that 58 per cent of food produced in Canada is thrown out every year in Canada. Most is tossed out before it even reaches the consumer. She’s setting out to convince farms and food distribution centres to trust her with their unwanted, but still nutritious, produce, and making plans to sell products such as sorbet and jelly at farmers markets and fairs.

Noovie is operating under the umbrella of Enactus, a global organization that encourages student entrepreneurship for social and environmental good. Earlier this year, Gingras was a runner up in the Enactus Canada National Competition.

“Food waste is an issue we try to tackle one sorbet at time, one jelly at a time,” she says.

Left: Environmental advocate Rae Landriau; right: Lucy Hempstead is a 21-year-old cyclist who won at the Canada Games in August 2021.

Rae Landriau’s passion for the natural world with their childhood in Bells Corners, near a wooded area of the Greenbelt. Now 23, Landriau is gaining recognition as an environmental researcher and educator.

“The biggest issue we are facing when it comes to climate change is the fact most people are so removed from the environment. We all live in a city, we don’t necessarily think about the trees being connected to water flowing. Educating people instills a love of the environment, because when you care about something you want to protect it.”

As a science student at the University of Ottawa, Landriau led three on-campus associations and had executive positions with seven others. Now pursuing a master’s degree in geography at Carleton University, they also work with the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Ocean Wise, and the United Nations Association of Canada. After founding Create Change Collective, an online portal for raising awareness of environmental issues, Landriau was named one of the top 30 under 30 by the North American Association for Environmental Education.

It has been a triumphant year for Lucy Hempstead. In August, the 21-year-old cyclist powered to a gold medal in the time trials at the Canada Summer Games.

Hempstead started competitive cycling two years ago after struggling with a wide variety of health problems including depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and physical injuries from previous athletic pursuits. Cycling, she says, has given her a new outlook on life. She has her sights set on the podium at next year’s national competition, the Canadian Road Championships.

“It’s definitely been a really nice outlet, doing sports competitively and not having it be a negative thing in my life,” she says.

Next year, Hempstead will travel to Spain to train for the 2023 racing season. She is mostly paying her own way by working at Kunstadt Cycling and PetSmart. A successful online fundraising drive has allowed her to keep riding a professional racing bicycle that was on loan from her former team.

Her dream is to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.