Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 AYO! Moments of 2011

This year was saw AYO turn 1 year old! It saw many of our ideas come into their own, as stand alone initiatives, and the support we have felt from our North End and Winnipeg community has been immense. As is customary for many folks, at the end of a year I like to take a look back and remind myself of what has happened, what has been achieved, what has been learned in the last 12 months. Find below a short summary of the Top 10 AYO Moments of 2011, according to organizer North End MC:

  1. AYO Leadership Meets @ Flipside: The Leadership Team began its inaugural series of meetings to guide the AYO ship. We were able to launch our youtube page and set a clear path for the summer of beefing up some of our ideas. 10 young people came out to get this ish started!
  2. AYO does CBC: our Leadership Team (and our cuzzin Johnny) made CBC history in 2011 with CBC Manitoba’s first ever Tweet-Up. This marriage of social media and radio, live on Up To Speed With Larry Updike allowed Manitobans to pose no holds barred questions to real live aboriginal youth. It was epic.
  3. Get Real Youth Forums (PolitiX): For the May Federal and October provincial elections, our PolitiX initiative was able to organize 2 GET REAL Youth Forums. These allowed young North Enders to pose questions to candidates, and have them answer simply YES/NO as their answer. In addition we were able to create a pre-forum event called GET INFORMED where youth can brainstorm, be educated on issues, and research the political candidates. Shout out to Kevin Chief and Kevin Lameroux on your wins!
  4. Selkirk Avenue Banners (Creative Expressions): Thanks to the leadership of Kale Bonham and partnerships coming out of the woodwork, new Banners are about to be installed on Selkirk Avenue from Main Street to Arlington. We began at Children of the Earth, moved to Ralph Brown Community Centre, engaging NECRC, Selkirk Avenue BIZ, the City of Winnipeg and of course North End youth. The result, as you can see HERE is gonna be slammin!
  5. ARROWS presents … everywhere: This was the year that AYO’s ARROWS took flight. We have been able to partner with several organizations to deliver training sessions to youth workers and youth leaders. We have been able to redevelop our ARROWS Presentation and train additional facilitators. This next year will see us take our youth engagement training as far west as Calgary!
  6. Feasting Our Hand Drum Part 2 (Healing Still Continues): For our 2nd annual Hand Drum Feasting event we partnered with Circle of Life Thunderbird House and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Youth Secretariat. With AMC Youth’s financial contribution. Thunderbird’s use of space, and Ninoondawah’s organizational skills and leadership, our 2nd annual Feasting event went off amazingly. Can’t wait til our 3rd Annual!!
  7. Initiating The FWD: North End Youth Newspaper: this began in the summer and has really taken off. Don't forget to check out for up to the minute info!
  8. Painting Cabin’s with United Way’s Youth Relations Council: for an alternative spring break activity we painted cabins with the United Way of Winnipeg's Youth Relations Council. It was an excellent beginning to a long and helpful relationship!
  9. AYO turns 1 at the BBB: this was an amazing time to celebrate all we had accomplished in our first year of being around. So proud to put together displays and celebrate with friends/family.
  10. Meet Me @ The Bell Tower: Our signature, most impactful initiative to date, has been our MM@BT rallies. Beginning again on January 6th in 2012, we will Stop The Violence in our hood.
Its amazing to think that in one year, with no staff, no building, no formal funding…we have been able to achieve this. Its hip hop genius. Its innovation. Its creativity. This, is leadership, north end style.  AYO! came into existence because youth in our community needed a vehicle of their own to drive…where they could share their ideas and nurture them into existence. Looking back at what has been accomplished in 2011, I realize my dreams have come true with AYO.

But does that mean we slow down? Never! 2012 is looking to be our greatest event yet. With members of our leadership team in the finals for the Future Leaders of Manitoba Award, with ARROWS presentations being booked across the prairies, with members of our group liaising with the United Nations, we are going to make it big. We invite all Aboriginal youth, all North Enders all human beings!!! Join us in the momentum that has swept our community. Bring you friends and stand up.

2012 is the year the North End Rises. I know it.


PS – don’t forget to heck out for MC’s latest post on his 2011 Lessons from the Streetz.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I need to share a small story.

I am certain by now most of you have heard the story of the North End's latest Hero, in 7 year old Faith from Dufferin School. Many community members and residents have been inspired by her courage, and leadership and I believe this has caused many people to become excited about the potential in our youth.


We need to stand together more as a community and I am really proud to see that it really is the children in the North End Leading the way. To further this example, at our Bell Tower marches, a 10 year old boy brought cookies at one rally, inspiring the entire group (of 100 people) to hold a potluck style event in the following week, as support for this young man's leadership. Also, 2 young girls, 11 and 12, have been acting as our parade leaders when we do our marches around the Bell Tower. Finally, a young man who has also been attending the rallies, by the name of Trenton, has made a 30 second video to send his message: STOP THE VIOLENCE!

I want to dedicate this post, to Trenton, and all of the young leaders (under 18, under 14, under 10!!!) in our community that there are at least 250 people (Bell Tower marchers) in this community that will stand behind you, so speak as loud as you need to become as a North a family...On December 6th, at the Bell Tower for the event called STAY FRESH...

We will stand by YOU(th)!

Love, Respect and Courage


PS - if you haven't check out the North End Youth Newspaper The FWD yet...what cha waiting for?!?!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

COMING SOON: Selkirk Avenue Banners

This is it people. 22 years later, Selkirk Avenue is about to receive some shiny, fresh youth designed banners from Main Street all the way to Arlington. This project has been in the making for close to a year, and the moment of revelation will come in the first week of 2011 at the Bell Tower.

You can see above what the current situation is of the Banners on our beloved Selkirk Avenue. lameness. These banners are outdated, most are missing, and those that do remain are faded and tattered. This is not the symbol of beauty and hope that I KNOW we deserve in our North End community.

Enter Creative Expressions
So thanks to a little AYO! Idea called Creative Expressions, a weekly opportunity to learn how to express ourselves in creative ways, the new banners are almost here. In February of this year, Student -Teacher Candidate Kale Bonham initiated the project in her classroom at Children of the Earth High School. You can see some examples of celebrating Kale's Leadership below. She shared one simple idea and the ball began to roll...

Kale put together this image of the Arlington Bridge as a way of getting the student's creative juices flowing. They were then invited to the After School CE program where the designs were initiated. Partners were approached and agreed to help including North End Community Renewal Corporation, the Selkirk Avenue BIZ Children of the Earth High School, Ralph Brown Community Centre and the City of Winnipeg. From there, the youth of the North End took control to create some brand new banners for our beautiful community!

What happened next was amazing...

So the AYO/COTE/Ralph Brown youth all decided to work away on this project over the summer and came up with 5 designs that were presented to the Selkirk Avenue BIZ in the fall. It was determined that the 5 images that were selected would go on the lamp posts from Main, to Arlington, beautifying the Selkirk Strip with youth art, and a strong message, that the business community in the North End, stands behind the youth that live here.


There is HOPE for our North End Community. There is beauty here, and strength. Our young people are talented, resilient and gifted. And if you ever come to a place/time where you forget that, just take a stroll down Selkirk Avenue in the New Year...and look up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Standing with the Chiefs

Dear World

My name is Michael Redhead Champagne. I am 24 years old, grew up in the North End of Winnipeg and am originally from Shamattawa Cree Nation. I am writing you this letter because I will not be silent any longer while the young people, elders and children in our communities continue to die. In my position as a leader in my community, I support Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in her protest of Minister Duncan’s insulting response to the emergency in her community. The deplorable conditions are all too familiar and have recently been highlighted in communities such as the state of emergency in Attawapiskat, the lack of education in Pikangikum, the youth suicides in Shamattawa the missing and murdered Aboriginal sisters and daughters. These conditions are all too familiar on First Nations communities across Canada and our Federal government fails to respond effectively. They respond with irresponsible, scattered and often offensive responses to emergencies, assuming there is any response at all. I think we all remember slop buckets and body bags, more recently mega prisons and fighter jets.

While Canada touts its international horn on its human rights and other such things, aboriginal youth are committing suicide in my community. We even have a museum dedicated to such a cause in our very own city. Meanwhile, so many young people are suffering from something called HOPELESSNESS. I buried one of my kids last month because of this sickness and many stand by watching us die, and kill one another until there will be no one left. And even if we do survive, the political and health and justice and treaty systems will ensure that we shut the hell up.


I am writing this letter to send a message: Aboriginal youth are leaders. We are strong, and we are learning our culture and traditions and we will not be stopped now. We continue to reclaim our languages, protect our children and love our elders. We will continue to work together to stop the corruption, the disrespect and the contempt. We are standing to show that we are willing to act together with our communities as well as other First Nation Leaders across our country to ensure a prosperous future for our young people, and indeed all Canadians.

It can start right now. By simply leaving a comment (or emailing your message to and sharing your support. It can start on Thursday by coming to Lighting Up The Avenue. It can Start Friday At Meet Me @ The Bell Tower. The choices are yours. But I know that the only way we can stop this injustice, is by standing together.

Love, Courage and Respect


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Be The Change & Lighting Up The Avenue

Hey folks!

Thanks so much to all of you who have been reading, and of course, attending the Bell Tower rally's that began just 3 weeks ago. since then over 200 community members have sent a strong message that North Enders are not apathetic.

I have decided to move the factual information that is happening over to the North End Winnipeg Blog. The purpose of that blog is to inform and celebrate the goodness of our community, and that i exactly what it has done.

If you are interested in helping out as a gust blogger on the North End Blog, you certainly can as we need all the help we can get. Check out a clip of the most recent Bell Tower event here...

Meet Me @ The Bell Tower – Be The Change

Meet Me @ The Bell Tower has become an opportunity for us as a North End Community to stand together. These rallies happen on Fridays at the Bell Tower on Selkirk and Powers. The Indian Family Centre has graciously offered to share their space for our bumpin’ After Party, aka a time of celebration and organizing for community action.

Another thing I wanna mention is the 9th annual LUTE (or Lighting Up The Avenue!) Thanks to community partners coming together, we will be celebrating the season in style @ Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre (470 Selkirk Avenue) on Thursday December 8th 2011. We will have food, prizes, an avenue lighting ceremony and who knows...Santa may even pop in!

Tell your families, and bring out the Kids on Thurs for LUTA, and on Friday for Be The Change!

Love, Respect and Awesomeness


Friday, December 2, 2011

Bring Your Vision To The Bell Tower

Have you ever heard of the Merchant's Hotel in the North End of Winnipeg?

Well, the reason I am blogging this is because it is about to become something very needed, and very hopeful in our North End community.  The building is being purchased, and us as North Enders have an opportunity to share our vision with the community coalition. it is being led by NECRC (North End Community Renewal Corporation) the same group that is bringing together North End youth leaders with North End Rising (a North End Youth Council. To better explain I will reference the U of W's Website:
A growing community coalition including the North End Community Renewal Corporation (on behalf of their community partners), Urban Circle Training Centre Inc., The Selkirk Avenue BIZ, Andrews Street Family Centre, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc. and The University of Winnipeg Urban and Inner-City Studies program are working to acquire the Merchants Hotel and adjacent lots with ownership transfer slated for April 2012. 
 In any event, there have already been a few community consultations, I was fortunate to attend one. I was able to put forward a couple dreams that I have for Merchant's corner, including a one stop shop for youth resources, and an overnight drop in centre for youth.

We Need YOUR Vision

The time is now for us as a community to come together and share our vision. We will be doing several exciting things including planning  North End Crime Strategy, forming the Hands of Hope Committee, and sending a message ad sharing OUR dreams for what we believe the Merchant's Hotel can become.

Please share this blog post, share the facebook event, but most importantly, please COME TO THE BELL TOWER TODAY, FRIDAY @ 6PM. I also challenge any media people reading this to come to this event. We have already had 140 people come and show us they believe we are strong and we deserve better than this violence. I dare all of you to come to the bell tower, stand with us, and share your vision.

Love & Respect


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.