Friday, July 29, 2011

AcronymZ - Summer 2011

AYO (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities) provides an opportunity for urban Aboriginal youth to gain facilitation, public speaking and leadership skills with our youth engagement strategy ARROWS! This strategy was created by and is delivered by the urban Aboriginal youth that make up the AYO! Leadership Team.

In the ARROWS Youth Engagement Training Sessions, we try to share a bit of acronyms that some adults maybe don't know too much about.

Here's a list that is in the process of being put together:


Hope you know what I just said! Lol, if u wanna try your hand at guessing some, leave a comment!

And while your @ it, check out @AYOantigang on Twitter! (

Be safe tonight peeps.

Love & Respect

Michael  Champagne
"Let us put our minds together to see what life we can make for our children" - Sitting Bull

Thursday, July 28, 2011

NOT COOL - (Girl, 15, sexualy Assaulted)

It really breaks my heart when I hear about these types of things happening in our community.  A young Aboriginal male sexually assaulting a 15 year old girl.  That makes me so upset.  I'm reminded of the violence that is so common in our hood and I don't know how to help.  And so, I will share information, hoping that together, we can do something to make our community safer.

Check out the police report below and take a look @ the image.

On Sunday, July 24th, 2011 at approximately 5:30 a.m., a 15 year old female victim was walking in the area of Pritchard Avenue and Aikins Street when she was approached by a male suspect riding a black mountain bike. The suspect came up behind the victim and grabbed her and began to choke her. 
The victim was then taken into a nearby lane and was sexually assaulted. The suspect proceeded to take some of the victim’s property as well as a cell phone and then fled the area on the bike. 
Police were contacted and entered into an investigation. A sketch of the suspect male has been composed.

Suspect is described as:
  • Male, Aboriginal in appearance, in his early 20’s
  • Short blonde hair
  • Wearing a black and red checked hoodie, baggy blue jeans and black high-top runners 
Investigators from the Division 13 Crime Unit are continuing with this investigation. Anyone who has information is asked to 986-2848 or CrimeStoppers at 786-TIPS (8477).

Be SAFE people!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Economics Over Human Life

“It is absolutely vital to the success of all of our communities and to Canada, that first nations children and youth get the education that’s going to enable them to be full participants in our economy,”
I am so disgusted with this sentiment.  I hear this shit all the time when governments are talking about why it is important to engage and work with Aboriginal people.  It is important for all of Canada that First Nations people participate in the Canadian economy. Yeah sure, thats nice that the ultimate goal is to get people to make money...but what about the people first?!!?  A lot of politicians and campaigns say tihngs like'people first' yet I don't see it in many peoples' actions.

It appears to me that the underlying motivation for people (at least from what I have seen in the media) to want to work with Aboriginal people is because ultimately it may effect their bottom line, financially.  Are you for real? We should all help Neechies because if not, our country won't make as much money.  This ideology is superficial and typical of Western news sources.  Phrasing and presenting information from a purely economic perspective, with a complete disregard for the fact that we aren't talking about 'objects' or 'tools' here, we are taking about human beings.


This is a known fact.  But that fact alone isn't enough to motivate the larger society to do something about it?!
This is a known fact.  But that fact alone isn't enough to motivate the larger society to do something about it?!

Please tell me if you see anything wrong with anything I have just said.  And now tell me that you think
2) whether or not the 'tough on crime' stance will work for our Neechie people, specifically our youth?! more info HERE and HERE

Brain Explosion

Hey there World

Last week, I was on vacation, which means I didn't go into my day job (only on Monday). But it was a fantastic opportunity to gather my thoughts and take a bit of a break from my constantly 'plugged in' state as a social media addict. Alas, that week is over and I am found sitting here on a Monday lunch hour with about 100 things zipping around in my head...

Weekly Panel on StreetZ
So once a week on Mondays, I have bee asked to participate in a weekly panel talking about youth issues on Urban Nation LIVE, the 1 hour talk show on Streetz 104.7fm! Last week, we talked about the media and image/self esteem among young people, as well as second hand smoke and its effects on kids.  It was awesome! This week, myself and Vanessa Kozak talked about the Conservatives and their Tough on Crime Legislation.  We talked specificaly about how this would have a negaive effect on young people, a negative effect on young people, and about the dangers of having laws create division amongst our nation, between 'us' (???) and 'them' (young offenders). Its pretty ridiculous from my perspective, and that's what we talked about today!!

Last week I went camping with the Champagne's which was awesomeness.  I got to experience some fishing and some wilderness adventures, which is a lil different than my city adventures lol. It was a great experience but a reminder to me that I am such a city boy! The highlights were getting a chance to get closer to my nephews and nieces...who are amazing young people that really are going to change this shitty world! awesomeness :)

Amy Winehouse 
OMG Amy Winehouse has passed away...I'm so sad because I believe she was an amazing artist.  I know there are cynics out there, but regardless of anything, it is never a good thing when someone loses their lives because of addictions...I'm reminded of the case of Michael Jackson where the world criticized from afar, and allowed that celebrity to fester and fall farther into their own shit, instead of appreciating the human being as an individual, instead of valuing their fame or their larger than life personas.

Creative Expressions
See you folks @ 6 @ Rlph Brown Community Centre today to talk about journals and future CE Plans!!! AYO!

The Healing Still Continues
This pat week, myself and some members of AYO! Leadership were able to formalize a little bit the Healing and Justice wing of AYO!  We were able to create a bit of a group that focusses specifically on healing, justice and cultural education of our young people.  This group will host our cultural events, is planning a youth focused inter-generational awareness conference and a Men's support network for our brothers (Brothers in Spirit??)

The provincial election is coming soon...keep an eye on eMCeeZ LoG, AYO Facebook  and Twitter for more info on PolitiX and our future events!

There is my brain explosion, maybe I can get more organized tomorrow!!!

Love & Respect


Friday, July 15, 2011

Googling Shamattawa

Hey people

I just Googled Shamattawa to see what I could hurts a little bit because these are the only kinda stories I can find...

The Black Rod: The obvious questions about the Shamattawa arson

CANADA: Many Suicides in Shamattawa

I know that as a community we have challenges but we can make it...I know it.

And I'm reminded of this HOPEFULNESS when I watch this video, made by Tony Miles about his experiences working with the beautiful children of Shamattawa. You can see the potential and the smiling faces and the hope.

That's the Shamattawa I will fight for.


Because the next generation deserves it.


Biker Gangs in OUR HoodZ

Hey folks

Please be careful out there. We need our communities safe...and gangs suck.

Chekk out this police warning from WPS:

In light of the ongoing violence in our city associated to outlaw motorcycle gangs, members of the public may observe an increased police presence in their neighbourhoods.
In an effort to inform members of the public regarding the potential for violence surrounding gang members residing in their neighbourhood, uniform members will be sharing this information with neighbourhood residents. Officers will discuss with residents the unlikely potential of gang related violence in their community. 
Officers will also be asking for the public's assistance in reporting any suspicious activity in their neighbourhood to police. Members of the public may also observe an increase in police patrolling these areas.
Our goal is to create a heightened awareness in an effort to combat these recent events.
The Winnipeg Police Service is committed to the citizens of Winnipeg and dealing with this ongoing conflict.   
Anyone with information regarding suspicious activity in their community is asked to call police at
986-6222 or CrimeStoppers at 786-TIPS (8477).

Michael  Champagne
"Let us put our minds together to see what life we can make for our children" - Sitting Bull

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Creative Expressions - The FWD:

We will be talking about the idea of a 'North End Youth newspaper'. We will share info and resources and determine what our next steps should be. 
Bring with you: one example of the type of news article you think should be included in a North End Youth newsletter
-ex: the 'opinions' page, 'ask dr whatever' section, and just creative writing and news pieces from YOUR perspective.

THIS IS OPEN TO ALL North End Youth (11-24) who would like to get involved in this initiative should come and check out CE this Monday @ 6pm @ Ralph Brown Community Centre! (as usual, you bring your creativity and yourself, we bring on the food)


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chief Harper...ugh

So Stephen Harper was made an honourary Chief of the Blood Tribe in Alberta earlier this week. Yup, I said it, STEPHEN HARPER, our PM, has been made a  honourary chief. Check out this excerpt that explains what an honourary chief is supposed to do:
The honorary Chieftainship was requested by Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head in response to the heartfelt apology in 2008 by the Prime Minister to former students of Indian Residential Schools.  Honorary Chiefs are expected to help promote the cultural pride of the Blackfoot and Kainai and all First Nations. They are expected to maintain the headdress with the highest respect and be an available resource to First Nations.
This is absolutely ridiculous because just North of the Bloods, are the Lubicon Cree.  These people have been in a battle with the Canadian Government and Canadian Industry for almost 20 years!  There are currently 2 oil wells in existence per Lubicon person, and people are getting sick. Since 1992, the United Nations has been urging the government of Canada to enter into negotiations with the Lubicon people with the intention of addressing the inequities that are present within that Nation. Check out this video below to ear first hand from a Lubicon Cree woman what the effects have been of these horrible developments and how the Canadian Government, the very same Government that Stephen Harper represents, continues to turn a blind eye to the devastation that is going on in many First Nations communities!

Now correct me if I am wrong, but this does not sound like someone who is promoting the Culture of any First Nation group,. He is not an advocate or ally to First Nation groups and that token apology (in which the Speaker atually exited his chair, diminishing the parliamentary impact - thanks for that bit of Info Mr Elijah Harper) does not un-do all of the years of neglect. Since him coming into power in 06, he has (like every other PM) ignored the cries of the Canadian Indigenous community, specifically, the Lubicon Cree Nation.

I am personally not in agreement with the Bloods on this one. To me, Harper has a long way to go before such an honour can be bestowed upon him, and that token ass apology didn't soften my heart one bit.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

AYO Leadership MeetZ @ Flipside

Dear World

It is with great pleasure that I present to you, the first of (hopefully) many exciting updates that I can give you about the AYO! (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities!) Leadership Team, the anti-gang I work with. Today was a very important day for us. Seeing as how we are not an organization, we are simply a group of young North Enders who give a SHIT* about our community. In any event, today was such a good day...

AYO @ Flipside

So once upon a time, there was a business named 'Flipside Grill' (located @ 617 Selkirk Ave ). Now, this Business was conveniently located to AYO! And where they do a lot of their work. As such, we decided to have our next Leadership Team meeting @ Flipside Grill. It was great, we met and ate burgers, breakfast and Pansit (they have AWESOME Filipino cuisine n catering there!).

At the meeting we shared our progress to date (we have an annual report for AYO, e-mail, met one another (there was bout 9 of us) and committed to workin' together. Such a powerful commitment. In any event we will be meeting again in August to share our progress. In addition, we brainstormed some ideas and created a few sub-committees to move ideas forward. From here, MC will meet with each person to solidify their commitment and further explore what that individuals role could be within AYO, and possibly even the Leadership Team.


And so, since Flipside offers Free Wi-Fi with meals, we did some online exploration and online establishment of AYO!. We created a Twitter, and a YouTube to go alongside our already established facebook and email account. We have a website COMING SOON. Check out AYO's online imprint:

AYO FB page:
AYO Twitter: @AYOantigang (
AYO YouTube: AboriginalYouthOpps (
AYO website: COMING SOON!!!

While you're at it make sure you keep checking as we will have a website and a blog up and running very soon!

And don't forget to check out Creative Expressions, Monday July 11th, 6-8pm @ Ralph Brown Community Centre - 460 Andrews Street. CE is a FREE creative writing program for youth 11 and up and will be re-doing BANNERS on Selkirk Avenue, and exploring why the North End is beautiful through PHOTOGRAPHY!

Join Us :)

Love & Respect

Michael  Champagne
"Let us put our minds together to see what life we can make for our children" - Sitting Bull

Friday, July 8, 2011

SAFE Stories: #JohnWatchWPG

So I am of the opinion that those who can, MUST speak for those who cannot.
When I read the most recent Winnipeg Police Service's report on how they are committed to helping sexually exploited youth, I was thrilled. I was happy to get the email because I want to see that our police are doing more to stop the human trafficking that goes on. Its extra upsetting because the victims are just getting younger ( Here are the #s in the report:

- 3 sex trade workers arrested
- 'several' youth at risk were identified
- 33 addresses were checked out
- 7 youth were taken to safe places
- 1 'adult cautioned for Interfering with a Child in Care'

Pretty good eh? I think that's ok except...something seems strange about these numbers. From what I know, young people in the sex trade are being exploited. Where in these numbers are the ADULTS who actually EXPLOIT our kids???? One adult was 'cautioned'? Really? That seems like a small number to me. Maybe its cuz the cops need more eyes on this situation. Now, I don't know about you other North Enders reading this or not, but I see creepers out and about all the time. And I for one, would like to see those creepers, many of whom drive around in their company vehicles held accountable.

I think the citizens of winnipeg should get together and say we will not stand for this anymore. We will not allow our children to be treated as objects, abused and then abandoned.


Starting now, myself and the #JohnWatchWPG Team will be sending out info to twitter so that citizens can keep an eye on the streets ourselves. If any of you notice someone creepy and the police do not respond, are unavailable, or you would rather do something about it right now, join us. Use the hash tag #JohnWatchWPG and send the info to our whole city (#Winnipeg).

Together we are stronger people, and this ones for the kids.


-----original e-mail excerpt----

The Winnipeg Police Service Vice Unit and Missing Persons Unit, working in partnership with Community Social Services Agencies, initiated a joint project to target youth at high risk of being sexually exploited or victimized in our city.
On July 7, 2011 Winnipeg Police Service members and our partners, pro actively addressed these issues surrounding the sex trade and our at risk youth. 3 arrests of sex trade workers were made and several youth acting as sex trade workers were identified. 33 addresses were further checked for youth who are currently missing and 7 at risk youth were each transported to a place of safety. One adult was cautioned for Interfering with a Child in Care under Section 52 of the Child and Family Services Act.
Our commitment to issues surrounding the sex trade and missing youth will continue.

Michael  Champagne
"Let us put our minds together to see what life we can make for our children" - Sitting Bull

MC IssueZ

Sup people

So blogs are cool for being able to put together a bunch of thoughts around causes or issues.  I had a retrospective moment today where I thought about which issues were so important to me that I had to blog bout them. The reason I had this retrospective moment, is because I was thinking it might be helpful to start contributing to other start getting the voice out there.  In the last few months, the following issues have captured my attention:

The importance of youth Voice
This particular issue has been covered in almost every single blog post I have done.  More recently, I've shared info about AYO's Creative Expressions Program, a creative writing opportunity for inner city youth, as well as written an open letter to North End youth, telling them to BRING IT, and share their gifts.  Lastly, AYO finally has a link on facebook:

Elder Abuse

Youth Suicide

Political awareness in young people

Violence in the Inner City

Lack of recognition for youth contributions to community renewal

This was intended to share with you folks how a blog can be used to help relay your opinion on cerntain issues.  Its kind of telling for me, to see that those were the issues that I really took to heart and needed to comment on the internet about it. Its good for self evaluation...

And so...where's your blog?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SAFE Stories - The Text MsG

SAFE Stories: I wanna comment on safety stuff, in relation to safety of the mind, body, emotions and spirit.  Also, I work for SAFE Workers of Tomorrow, and they got me trained to look at the world in a more…safe way :P
Once upon a time, I did a presentation to a group of young people in the North End about health and safety.  I told them about how hey had worker rights, about how workers compensation works, and how they can spot and deal with hazards in their workplace. I was able to work with this same group a couple of times and was able to build a nice comfy relationship with the group  It also helped that I knew one of these young people from my other work that I do in the North End. Now, months and months had passed since this presentation had been done, but just yesterday, I received a text message from this young person and said he needed to speak with me urgently.  He said: "im ok its just my friend he works at ________ and he has massive burns on his hands from working there...he doesn't want to do anything about it cuz he doesn't wanna lose his job". At this point I tried setting a time in the next couple days to meet and chat about it. 

I still haven't had a chance to deal with it in person yet but this is something that ENRAGES me.  This is an example of an employer creating an environment of fear in workplaces where, when young people DO get hurt, they feel afraid to do something about it.  They will continue to go through the injuries because they are afraid of losing a job.

I am of the opinion that there is no job that is worth your health and safety.  A young people, we have a very important example to set.  If we walk into a workplace (or any situation for that matter) and allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, injured or silenced, that makes us feel like crap. I don't want my nephews and nieces, the little ones in my life, the next generation of workers to have to deal with that crap.  Many people in workplaces that have been there a long time, will say things like 'That's just the way it is' and imply that there is nothing that can be done to improve the unsafe situations that constantly cause harm to employees.

To this I say NEVER!! I will never be silent and will never accept that 'that's the way it is'.  The health and safety of our communities, of our next generation is too important for me to just give up and look the other way.  I won't.  Because the young ones in my life deserve better. And so do you.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BRING IT (An Open Letter to North End Youth)

Dear YOUth

Ekosi (Thanks) for reading my letter.  I am writing you this letter because I feel like there are some very important things that I need to say to you.  I need to say this to you, because you guys inspire me every single day. I get to work with you all the time, when you help me organize and plan an event, when you help me innovate a new idea or program to help people and when you dream with me on how our community can get better. I see you all the time, out my front window, on your bikes, walkin down the street or going to the store.  I also see the challenges, when I see you fighting with your boy/girlfriend and using inappropriate language in public.  I also see you in the paper and on the news a lot talking about violence and apathy... which is less cool, because that's not what us North End peeps are about. And so, to combat that negativity, I share my perspective with all of you.

What made things good for me growin' up in this hood was I received guidance in many different forms. The ones that stick out to me, were the ones I could hold in my hand…the REAL things; like a letter, or a card; a small art project or a hand drawn picture. When I receive these gifts I am reminded of what is important (and is so lost) in today’s world, and why I am writing this letter: sharing our gifts.

It is our responsibility as the youth of this nation that we learn about and develop the gifts that we each have inside of us.  We all have ability, and we all have challenges; the measure of greatness is how you utilize those traits to benefit yourself and the people you love.  So pretty much, if you are really good at something, and people know it enough that they com to you and ask you to share it, it is your responsibility to share it with them.  There are 2 pieces of criteria for gifts: 1) you have to be good at it, and 2) you have to love doing it.  Once you can say YES to both of those criteria, you probably found your gift!

Not Ours To Keep

The thing about gifts is…they are not ours to keep.  If I am a beautiful grass dancer, that’s great for me, but that talent and skill is not mine to keep.  I must share that gift with the community by dancing for them, and finding the teachings that come from every step that I would take. I must also teach others who are interested in developing their own gifts. If I see a seed, a spark, an inkling of interest in the eye of a young person around what I am trying to do, it must be acknowledged and it must be responded to.  Its like all those teachings back in the day; our Elders would share the teachings with the community, so that those teachings could live on and serve the people beyond the life span of any individual. Its about survival of the community and for that reason, we all have a responsibility to share what we know to better the next generation. The Earth was not given to us by our ancestors, it was loaned to us by our children – Neechie Quote.

I know that its sometimes a pain in the butt to be constantly offering yourself to those around you, and I give you this piece of caution with this advice: boundaries are important.  As much as sharing is something that we all must deliberately model so that the habit gets ingrained in the younger ones, we have to remember that we must take care of ourselves as well. And sometimes that means you can't say YES to every request.  We have to learn how to say YES to taking care of ourselves AND taking care of others, because we are no good to the community if we don't take care of ourselves!


Traditionally, us neechies didn't do the 50% = a pass thing.  When you did something, it was done in excellence, 100% and thats how we operated.  That tradition is still alive today, even though modern standards don't enforce it. But what that means is, when we are sharing our gifts, we ARE giving as much as we can and we ARE sharing to the best of our abilities.  We must do this AT THE SAME TIME as making sure that we are not giving away so much of ourselves that we have nothing left at the end of the day to take care of 'me'.  Or we involve ourselves so much in the affairs of those around us that we lose sight of the simplicity of sharing…and being together with those that you love. Community is in interesting idea and I am so proud to come from a place where that word means something special: The North End.

We have our challenges, as you can see anytime you open the newspaper or turn on the news. Us North End youth are often under attack by the media and many others who do not understand the day to day lives we live in this end of town.  But I am writing this letter because I want all of YOUth to know that we can change things. We can change those negative stereotypes by bringin’ on the integrity.  We can act positively on purpose.  We can offer to help whenever we can.  We can walk away when things get shitty instead of engaging in violence or crime.  We can talk about our feelings and encourage our brothers, sisters, cousins and neighbours to do the same.  It doesn’t matter that our community has challenges and that there are many of us dealing with that challenge on a day to day, and very personal level.  The fact is, we are all here now, together, and there is strength in that. There is possibility in that.  There is momentum in that.

We can make a difference. It starts with learning about your own gifts, and sharing those with others.  It continues when you begin to look at your community and start helping them share their gifts. It’s about taking care…of one another, ourselves and the entire Turtle Island. Mother Earth and our entire human nation deserve it.

So in closing, I have one thing to say to the youth of the North End when it comes to sharing our gifts and acting with integrity:

Bring it.


PS – and I know that I myself am challenged with always acting with integrity and being open to sharing my gifts, but it’s a learning process for me too. And I am committing to learning with you. I will make mistakes but I will learn from them and continue to move forward. Falling down is part of life….Getting back up is living.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Creative Expressions @ Ralph Brown

Once a week in Winnipeg's North End, young people get WRITE!

Beginning on July 4th 2011, AYO! (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities) will begin to offer 'Creative Expressions' a FREE Creative Writing program, open to All North End youth (11-17). We will be at Ralph Brown Community Center (460 Andrews Street) every Monday night for the entire summer from 6-8pm and will be exploring various ways of expressing ourselves.  It is guided by members of AYO! and will always have an adult on site to help supervise all activities. Topics that have been explored in the past include: 'the internet', 'x-box' 'graffiti' and more! Of course every week, we bring some healthy snacks for people to eat so that their bodies get nourished as well as their minds! We generally bring in other young people that are experience in one particular form of self expression, and they share why and how it has been beneficial for them, before we try it!

Creative Expressions has been operating since Spring 2010 and has been offered in more than 5 locations in the North End community.  This deliberate variance of our location allows us to share these opportunities with a wider range of exposure.  We have operated previously at North End Arts Centre (Ndinawe) and more recently at Children of the Earth High School.

Right now, CE is working on a project that intends to re-vamp and re-design the banners on Selkirk Avenue. We have established some partnerships and are excited to work on this banner project more at our next Creative Expressions on Monday July 11/11 were we will be exploring photography and applying those photos to our Banner project.


North End MC

My photo
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Representin the North End of Winnipeg since 1987. I will share my journey tryna set an example and live a proud Cree life. I'll include my challenges and feelings and progress in terms of AYO! Aboriginal Youth Opportunities. You(th) are the reason.