Mario Cantin, Regional Vice President of National Bank for Laval and North Shore, is an outdoors enthusiast and a big believer in the potential of young people.

Cantin manages 350 employees, serving 150,000 clients. ''I help my employees help our clients achieve their dreams and projects,'' he says.

For a few years, National Bank has been collaborating with Laval Families Magazine, as a sponsor for the Young Authors Contest. ''Laval Families Magazine is a good way for us to reach the community,'' says Cantin.

Community well-being is something that is fundamental to Cantin and to his employer. ''Social implication is part of our bank and our regional DNA,'' says Cantin. ''At the bank, we don't want to be solely giving money, we want to be giving some of our time as well. We want to roll up our sleeves. As a result, we become better people ourselves.''

In fact, National Bank created 12 One for Youth committees across the country, inviting thousands of not-for-profit organizations to submit an inspiring youth initiative related to the three pillars of the program: health and wellness, education, and community involvement, with one million dollars to be shared amongst projects, with a maximum of $25,000 per project.

Now in its third year, the program has already helped 25 organizations and 355,000 young people in Laval and the North Shore alone. Examples include a friendship chain, a safe space in which people can meet, chat and share without prejudice. There has also been the addition of a training room in an elementary school, encouraging children to lead an active lifestyle. ''We see so many great projects every year. We have wonderful young people doing amazing things,'' says Cantin.

''We wanted to be involved financially, since schools have less and less resources, and we want to help with goods as well as with presence,'' says Cantin. Organizations who want to apply for a project can go on the One for Youth page to find out more information. ''It's really worth applying. Anything that facilitates collaboration between youth is welcome,'' says Cantin. ''This is how we build a strong society.''

Cantin is also involved in the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation, which helps young adults in remission to regain their well-being by undertaking an adventure expedition. ''When they return, they really take their lives back into their own hands and often become role models for others,'' says Cantin. ''They come back transformed.''

Moreover, Cantin has been involved for the past nine years in the Double défi des deux Marios to raise funds for the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation. ''We live the same experience as the youth every year in mid-February,'' says Cantin. The challenge is to cross the frozen Lac Saint-Jean as a team. ''Adults who participate help us to raise funds, so we're able to send more young people on expedition,'' he adds.

''There is an implication at each level at the bank in order to support youth and organizations,'' says Cantin.

Another contest for Laval and North Shore families has been put in place specifically for the back to school season. ''We will hand out 10 grants of $200 to reimburse school fees, children's activities, or other needs related to this back to school period,'' says Cantin. ''I invite everyone to participate. It's a good way to start off the school year.''