This accomplished young change-maker’s charity event made national news: Meet Maizie Bowkowy.
By Sarah Fox
Photography by Nicole Romanoff
Saskatchewan-raised teen Maizie Bowkowy means to ensure no one feels left behind or left without.
At 15, she is already an entrepreneur, a community organizer and the recipient of a YWCA Women of Distinction award in the under 29 category. The common thread between all three is the motivation behind her extracurricular activities and everyday way of life: charity.
Maizie’s community service is the product of a knee-jerk compassion reflect—a personal trait she’s harnessed to inspire those around her to take action. “Our ideas can inspire others to join in a cause, she says. “Sometimes, people just need someone to lead.”
Mazie is often that person. Her leadership has realized everything from organizing a fundraiser in support of a community member who suffered a stroke to founding a social enterprise at the age of 12 with the goal of helping her local animal shelter.
The latter is a Martensville (Mazie’s hometown) success story that made it all the way to a Dragon’s Den pitch party, where the business took home the top prize. It began when the animal shelter put a call out for donations. Galvanized, the teen dusted off her great-grandmother’s sewing machine and started stitching dog beds. And Doggy Naps was established. For every three dog beds sold, Doggy Naps provided one to a Saskatchewan shelter. Eventually, demand became too much for Mazie and family—the supply chain—to keep up with, and they decided to put the business to rest.
For Mazie, who was in grade eight at the time, this meant more time to volunteer. For her neighbouring city of Saskatoon, it meant a charity event of epic proportions…impressive enough to attract the attention of national media.
The handy work of Mazie and recruits (including roughly 60 fellow teens), the event took place this past Christmas Eve to add festive cheer to the lives of families in need with gifts, food and kindness. “It started out as a small idea, but it quickly snowballed into an enormous event,” recalls Mazie. “I was touched by the generosity of others [donating] their own personal time during the busiest season of the year to help make this party possible.”
Group efforts like this, which she says would have been impossible without the peers that came on board to help organize it, are proof of the muscle youth can bring to change-making. As Mazie says, “youth can be capable of great things if we are given the chance.” And she hopes the direction she’s taken will inspire those her age to endeavor down a similar path. “I’m trying to lead by example, dedicating my time to projects I believe are for the better good.”
When Mazie sees a chance to better the lives of others, she’s quick to hop in the driver seat and steer change into their lives. Read on to learn why she believes youth empowerment must be upheld as a core value of our country.
Why is “we” stronger than “me?”
The power of one is incomparable to the power of many. When like-minded people work together toward a common they are truly passionate about, nothing is unattainable. There is strength in numbers and using that strength for something positive inspires others to join.
Fill in the blank: Moving forward into the next 150 years, our country needs [blank] in order to build more a caring and compassionate Canada.
Tolerance for differences—for different cultures, different gender and sexuality identities, different beliefs, and family dynamics. Tolerance for difference in age, race, economic background, level of education… everything. While we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go. I see it every day in schools, I see it on the streets of Saskatoon and I hear about it in the news…many people are still quick to judge others and doubt our abilities to do great things.
Describe the core values of your ideal Canada.
Canada is known for its diversity. We are a multicultural country, and are known worldwide for being “accepting” of different backgrounds. I think that much of this is true, but we need to build on it. My ideal Canada would be based on respect for difference, on youth empowerment and on doing whatever it takes to make our country a safe and desirable place for all people—regardless of religion, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. Actions speak louder than words; often, people lack the courage to follow through with an idea for positive change. They’re afraid to fail or the process seems too great a task, but we need to believe in those around us and not underestimate the power of “we.”
Nominate one person you believe is working to positively change the future of Canada.
I think there are kids all over who are inspiring others and doing great things, often unnoticed. When I think of these kids, I think of a group of special needs kids from my high school. They run a coffee shop called the Royal Bean. They put a smile on everyone’s face. They are dedicated and hard-working—a perfect example of the positive influence we can all have when we work hard and aim to do something we are passionate about.
What’s one action you would like people to take in order to build a better country?
Get involved in something positive that you believe in; I think it is as simple as that. If you can’t find something already happening that you’d like to help with, then start something yourself. It may feel overwhelming at first, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly others will be inspired by your leadership and join you.
Take the pledge and help build a more caring and compassionate Canada.
MORE WE ARE CANADA: FUTURE 50 INTERVIEWS HERE.