Housing Solutions for Indigenous Youth Aging Out of Care in Winnipeg

“Housing Solutions for Indigenous Youth Aging Out of Care in Winnipeg” has been announced as one of twelve projects being funded from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation as part of the National Housing Strategy.

This is a one year project, with HTFC Planning & Design as the main proponent, recieving $122,666 from CMHC to do this solutions lab featuring partnerships with Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO), HTFC Planning & Design; Ready to Shift and Scale (RSS); Nigaanii Wabiski Mikanak Ogichidaa (NWMO) so far!! We are also grateful to have suppport from the University of Manitoba, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences throughout this initiative. AYO hosted a Meet Me at the Bell Tower Gathering last week on this topic and also hosted the first of their leadership lab team gatherings to kick off the project. Future gatherings and identifying additional partners will happen throughout the duration of the project.

“I am beyond excited to be a part in project because I know first hand how inconsistent and challenging navigating the systems are before and after you even ahead out. I am vet happy the project uses Indigenous youth voices, like mine, that know from experience what’s not working, and what is.” – Kakeka ThunderSky

More about our project “Housing Solutions for Indigenous Youth Aging Out of Care in Winnipeg”:

Our Solutions Lab will address the issues of housing insecurity and homelessness that Indigenous youth in care in Winnipeg face when they age out of the child welfare system at age 18.

Our project leverages the processes and methodologies of Solutions Labs to collaboratively explore the specific needs of Indigenous youth in Winnipeg who have grown up in the care of Manitoba’s child welfare system and who are at the point where their institutional supports are removed.

Many child welfare advocates and organizations have identified this pivotal point in the experience of a youth in care, a point at which they face a high probability of entering into a cycle of poverty and housing insecurity or homelessness.

We will approach this issue from different perspectives and worldviews, including those of people who:

  • are or were in the system (young people who have aged out or are aging out of care);
  • are working in the system (caregivers, child welfare caseworkers or administrators, policymakers, etc.); or
  • are “around” the system (as advocates or community organizers, or those who work for organizations involved with housing, including the CMHC).

In doing so, we aim to build bridges of empathy and provide advocates and policymakers with a more complete picture of the issue.

Our hope is that the solutions that are co-developed in this process will be taken up by decision makers to close the gaps and further reduce the number of young people facing homelessness year over year.

Anyone wanting to get involved in, support the development of or speak to someone about this initiative please see details below:

Zoe Mager, HTFC
Email: zmager@htfc.mb.ca

Kakeka ThunderSky, Nigaanii Wabiski Mikanak Ogichidaa
Email: 2braidz@ayomovement.com

Michael Redhead Champagne, AYO
Email: mc@ayomovement.com

Happy 9th Birthday AYO!


Happy Birthday! It was 9 years ago that a group of community members came together at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House and started the movement that is AYO! (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities). You’re invited to join us at the bell tower and celebrate with us! There will be food, cake, activities and goodie bags! We will be sharing updates here on our blog, as well as on our Facebook event page! We will also be sharing an update of our current initiatives and some important dates for you to save.


We never imagined that one event could turn into all the work we do in leadership, health, systems/education, arts & culture, media, recreation and safety. Find below a little image of the initiatives that we have been involved in. We have not included everything and each item listed could and does have its own “web” just like this. Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years, we are very excited to re-launch our website and announce other exciting events and initiatives that will empower Indigenous young people everywhere.


I Heart the North End: Notes & Next Steps

Notes from North End Community Conversation at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre March 01, 2019

Asking the community for feedback on how to move forward after the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre was vandalized on many different occasions.

Community concerns:

Many community centres in the neighbourhood are closing or struggling to stay open.

There are many services missing/needed in the community;

  1. Healthy baby, Healthy child
  2. Pow-wows/ pow wow programs and large gathering spaces
  3. Aboriginal Head Start
  4. Halloween and Christmas celebrations
  5. Bingo and craft programs
  6. Drop- in for youth
  7. Community computers
  8. Elders programs
  9. Kitchen space
  10. Support for men/cultural teachings
  11. Healing for men at NPDWC
  12. North End wide newsletter to create more communication between the community
  13. Residents coalition
  14. Harm reduction space
  15. Volunteer and employment opportunities
  16. settlement/ transition services for Indigenous people
  17. Food security/ healthy food sources
  18. Creating more green spaces, such as community gardens
  19. Leadership training and capacity building
  20. The community celebrating holidays together and work towards uniting community
  21. Intergenerational connections
  22. Create safe spaces
  23. Meeting people’s basic needs (food, shelter, safety etc.)
  24. Teach newcomers about the North End and create a welcoming environment
  25. The Indian and Metis Friendship Centre needs good board members with integrity

What is going well in the North End Community

  1. Neechi co-op is re-emerging says Russ, treasurer
  2. Bear Clan has opened space @ 586 Selkirk Ave
  3. New community space at David Livingstone is beginning fundraising with Alexa & other helpers
  4. Merchant’s Corner is new (541 Selkirk Ave)
  5. North Point Douglas Women’s Centre is doing well, and welcomes men too  
  6. The North End community is kind, caring and a friendly neighbourhood
  7. The Ukrainian Labour Temple is expanding
  8. Strong community groups building solidarity (Bell Tower)
  9. Lord Selkirk Park Family Centre is a great community resource
  10. North End Community Helpers Network (NECHN) provides opportunities
  11. Ma Wawi’s presence in the community is a big help/support
  12. Wider society wants to help and engage in Winnipeg
  13. CEDA Pathways
  14. Tina’s Safe Haven & Ndinawe’s 24 Hour services for youth
  15. Education over poverty, providing more opportunities for St John’s students
  16. Science and supper, drop-in providing food, sharing stories and growing knowledge
  17. COTE and NIJI Mahkwa providing Indigenous education
  18. Hands of Hope, providing furniture and other household items in the community. Training and education program
  19. North End Arts are thriving

Next Steps in the North End

  1. Work towards keeping staff in the community
  2. Positive media coverage about the North End (i.e. using social media)
  3. Creating a positive narrative with youth leading
  4. Work towards rebuilding the North End and collaborating better
  5. Create universal housing
  6. Create strategic planning to rebuild infrastructure (like supporting Neechi Commons and Friendship Centre)
  7. Create more community consultations/conversations
  8. North Ender’s need to work together and with allies
  9. Be more realistic on what is possible
  10.  Possible involvement with court in serious cases like the Friendship Centre
  11. Invite Business to community conversations
  12. Additional administrative and coordination needed

The group decided we would call ourselves I Heart North End and I hope that anyone reading this who also hearts the North End will join us on Friday March 15th from 6-8pm at the Merchant’s Corner (541 Selkirk Ave) to keep the momentum going. (You can also read the @northendmc version here) 

I the North End


13 Moons is Hiring 2 Youth Harm Reduction Workers

AYO’s 13 Moons Harm Reduction initiative is hiring 2 Part Time Youth Harm Reduction Workers! Please share with any youth leaders you know who want to help us support the healing of our relatives who use drugs!

POSITION: Youth Peer Harm Reduction Worker

LOCATION: Winnipeg, MB

Term: ASAP- March 31, 2019 with potential renewal April 1, 2019 –March 31 2020

Hours: 20-40 hours a week

Hourly Rate: $18.50/hour

AYO (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities) is a youth movement from Winnipeg’s North End that is committed to breaking stereotypes and creating opportunity for urban Indigenous young people. We develop relationships with organizations, media, government and businesses in order to empower each other. This group is led by young people volunteering and sharing their gifts with others. We are currently hiring Indigenous youth to work with our 13 Moons Harm Reduction initiative, a culture based program to reduce harms for people who use drugs.


AYO is the lead on implementing the 13 Moons Project, which is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Ka Ni Kanichihk is providing organizational support and financial management, and is part of the Executive Circle along with Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Population Public Health and Manitoba Harm Reduction Network. Employees of the project report to the Executive Circle.


AYO requires 2 experienced, knowledgeable, and motivated Outreach Workers to connect with people aged 11-35 who are currently using drugs.

Using a harm reduction, healing centered, anti-racist, and culturally grounded approach, the successful candidate will:

> Support the project’s PWUD Advisory Council:

  • Maintain and support communications with members
  • Support training and capacity building opportunities for members
  • Ensure activities support the deliverables outlined in the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) work plan
  • Responsible for carrying out day to day operations according to the work plan
  • Finding opportunities to connect with people who use drugs
  • Independently carry out overall day to day activities in alignment with the work plan
  • Deliver a 13 week program on healthy sexuality and harm reduction
  • Coordinate social media
  • Attend monthly Executive Circle meetings
  • Contribute to necessary documents and reports for the Executive Circle
  • Responsible for ensuring that necessary materials & equipment for activities are in stock
  • Identify, develop, and/or participate in appropriate networks and coalitions
  • Assist with event planning, including conferences
  • Participate in evaluation activities according to work plan

> Follow all policies and procedures of the employing and funding organizations
> Other duties as delegated by the Executive Circle


  • A high school diploma
  • 2-3 years of experience working in their community on community events, campaigns, coalition building etc.
  • Strong community connections, in particular with communities that are affected by harmful substance use and those not traditionally well served by systems.
  • Lived experience with substance use.
  • Previous roles, volunteer or employment, with inner city organizations.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Ability to organize and coordinate meetings.
  • Works using a decolonizing and anti-racist approach.
  • A commitment to working from a harm reduction oriented, healing centered, and culturally grounded perspective.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with Indigenous people.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Must be able to work flexible hours according to the activities required of the job position.
  • Comfortable working as part of a team and independently.
  • Experienced in software programs for data management, word processing and basic design (eg. Office, social media).


Before 4pm on November 30 please submit resume and cover letter highlighting how you meet the qualifications by email. Please write APPLICATION in the subject line.

Please submit applications to:

Name: Marcia Anderson
Position: Co-Chair Executive Circle
Email: manderson5@wrha.mb.ca

Only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

Opportunities – April 2018

It’s April and there’s no better time to come check out what is happening with AYO! (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities). Find below opportunities that Indigenous young people and community members are invited to attend. Please see the corresponding Facebook Page or website link for more details.

Copy of April 2018

Inner City Voices: You can hear the ICV crew on the air 3 times this month! This is a weekly radio show where you get to hear about some inner city events and activities and music and people. We are Mondays on CKUW 95.9fm on the following dates

  • April 9 – Inner City Voices, 5-6pm
  • April 23 – Inner City Voices, 5-6pm
  • April 30 – special episode of ROGUE VOICES,  our semi-regular collaboration with the rogue primates of CKUW!

Speak Cree?: Speak Cree is a weekly inter-generational conversational group that hopes to revitalize the Cree language right here in the city of Winnipeg. We meet Tuesdays from 6:30-8:00pm at Ralph Brown Community Centre, 460 Andrews. Check out our below poster and feel free to share with anyone interested in learning the language! Happening April 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th

Speak Cree_.png

Fearless R2W: Manitoba Child Welfare Education and Advocacy group meets every Wednesday at 6pm at Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre at 510 King Street. Find below the topics of the learning circles for April


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Meet Me at the Bell Tower: Anti Violence and community building rally, open to inner city residents and anyone else!! Young people are encouraged to share their ideas on how we can address the challenges we face as a community with the rest of the village as their back up. Find below the themes or each Friday in April (its always at 6pm, and always at 470 Selkirk Ave):


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AYO Politix – Saturdays at noon! The only planned Brain Storm we have is the YOUTH ENGAGEMENT BRAIN STORM that is happening Saturday April 7th at Boogies Restaurant at 1155 Main Street at 12 noon. Hope to see you there!


Midnight Medicine Walk – Thunder Bay: On Friday April 27th at 10pm at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ontario! We will be joining our relatives from the Student Enterprise 2nd year class and residents of the community in smudging along the river of tears. Check out the FB event HERE for up to date info about the route and the official poster!

Midnight Medicine Walk.png

Grand Opening of Merchant’s Corner: On April 28th at 11:30am the Merchant’s Corner is having it’s Grand Opening! If you have ever wanted to be a part of what is happening with the revitalization of that former bar/hotel that has transformed into an educational and community hub (with a cafe coming soon). Check out the Merchant’s Corner website for more info!

Merchants Corner Grand Opening Save the Date .jpg

Ottawa Fam: We have to give props to the Assembly of 7 Generations and the team in Ottawa, ON who began meeting weekly a month ago and are continuing to build community and celebrate First Nations and Metis culture! Follow their Twitter account here!


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Opportunities – March 2018

Do you want to get involved with the AYO team in Winnipeg? Take out your calendar and circle these dates!


Inner City Voices (radio show): bi-weekly, hour long radio program featuring a panel of real people sharing real stories, discussing real topics and celebrating real music. Listen to old episodes of the show by clocking  HERE.
Monday March 12, 5-6pm on CKUW 95.9fm
Monday March 26, 5-6pm on CKUW 95.9fm

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Speak Cree? (free community language nest): this weekly community space invites Cree/Inninew speakers of all dialects, ages and experience levels to learn and share the language!
Tuesdays: March 6March 13, March 20 & March 27 @ 6:30pm
@ Ralph Brown Community Centre – 460 Andrews St

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Fearless R2W (Child welfare education & advocacy group): We meet weekly and invite parents and community helpers to come build their networks and system literacy.
Wednesdays @ 6:00pm @ Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre
March 7 – Learning Circle with Winnipeg Boldness Project
March 14 – Advocacy & Crafts
March 21 – Topic To Be Determined….
March 28 – Sharing Circle

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Meet Me at the Bell Tower (anti-violence, community building gathering): weekly event for families and youth to encourage healthy living. We also connect members of the community with relevant supports in creative ways.
Fridays @ 6:00pm @ 470 Selkirk – Indigenous Family Centre
March 9 – Restoring Justice
March 16 – Food As Resistance
March 23 / March 30 – Topics To Be Determined….

Mental WellnessBrain Storm.png

AYO Politix (system literacy, self directed learning for Indigenous youth): We meet in local businesses to brain storm topics and plan solutions and actions to support our community and AYO initiatives.
Mental Wellness Brain Storm, Saturday March 17 @ 12:00pm
Newcastle Restaurant – 1010 Main Street 

MidnightMedicine Walk.png

Midnight Medicine Walk (cultural walk for those being sexually exploited on the streets): In response to the recent verdicts relating to Tina Fontaine and injustices across the country we will be meeting at
March 19 @ 11:45pm on Alexander & Waterfront

March 17,2010-2018

AYO To Celebrate 8th Birthday: Nothing has been planned yet, but keep your eyes posted to the page or surprise AYO team members with birthday gifts all month!


Fire Safety Tips and an Opportunity for Youth

AYO & Meet Me at the Bell Tower have seen far too many of our relatives fall victim to preventable fires and that’s why we hosted the FIRE SAFETY BELL TOWER on Friday February 23rd, 2018. We were pleased to announce our partnership with the Fire ED Community, in an attempt to provide young leaders in our community with mentorship and fire safety skills that we can then offer to schools and youth groups in our communities. We are ready and able to use public education alongside our many partners who want to help give youth a fighting chance to live to our full life’s potential and be positive contributors to society. AYO leaders will be learning new life safety skills to be fire safe and helping all young people in our neighborhood and province to achieve the same positive results.

fire ed opportunity fire sadgfy.png

At the Bell Tower, we asked our relatives what do we need to do to to prevent fires? Here is what was said:


  • Make sure there are working and up to date smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your home
  • Keep flammable items away from heat such as lighters, stacks of paper, electronics cords,
  • Use safety locks when small children are around for dangerous items such as lighters, flammable liquids, etc
  • Children should not be handling or using fire
  • Share traditional teachings of fire, and fire keepers so that Indigenous children can have respect and understanding for fire, and learn not not abuse it


  • Is there technology available that can detect smoke levels before to much exposure?
  • are there fire proof materials that can be used to build houses? Is this affordable or not affordable?
  • Do all the kids in our neighbourhood know what do in case of a fire? (aka home safety plan, “stop, drop and roll”, etc)

A big THANK YOU to Chris Clacio (Community Safety Facilitator) and the AYO team for facilitating this conversation, and thank you to Charlaine for writing down the notes!

If you or someone you know would like to get involved with this project, we are looking for local partners, and also wanting to connect with schools in Winnipeg’s inner city!


More about our friends at Fire ED:
The Fire-ED Interactive Community is committed to promoting equality of opportunity, valuing diversity and tackling social exclusion. We want to make sure that equality and diversity is at the heart of everything we do. We believe that strong communities are places where people feel safe, where the environment is welcoming, where people feel they are able to take action for the benefit of themselves and their community, where they feel that their concerns are heard and responded to. It’s not about political correctness or box-ticking, but about making sure we provide the kind of services that are needed, in a way that does not exclude anyone. Join the Fire-ED Interactive Movement For Eliminating Preventable Fires on social media @FireEDCommunity