AYO Language Hour April Schedule

Dear World,

Thanks for being so awesome and continuing to support AYO! Language Hour. Special shout out to Agnes Catcheway (Anishinabe), and Sue Caribou (Cree) for their leadership and willingness to share the language. We welcome all individuals to come out to learn the language with us, with a special invitation to the neighbourhood’s young people. We would also like to thank Arlea and everyone at Neechi Niche and Neechi Commons for their continued support in sharing space for our learning! Please remember to bring a small offering of tobacco for our instructor (we would also like to pass around a hat , and each throw in a couple dollars for our instructor too).

Kinanaskomitin (Thank you in Cree)

Meegwetch (Thank You in Anishinabe)



Find below, the schedule for Anishinabe and Cree classes in the month of April 2014

April 1 – Anishinabe

April 8 – Cree

April 15 – Anishinabe

April 22 – Cree

April 29 – Anishinabe

Women In HERstory

So this week’s theme was “Women in History”… as we tend to do at the Bell Tower, while chatting about our theme, we made a last minute change. One of our younger bell tower regulars said ‘its not HIS story, its HER story!” We thought that was a great idea, so that is why we called this post ‘Women in HERstory’ instead of the other one! After we finished our bell ringing, megaphoning, picture taking and rowdiness outside, we moved into the Family Centre for our Prizes and History Lessons (which was tons of fun, since we were all the teachers). Find below a list of the women honoured and celebrated at our Bell Tower event, celebrating the many contributions of women throughout the ages, and throughout the world.


Bell Tower’s List of Women to Celebrate

  • Irene Bedard (Indigenous Actress & trailblazer)
  • Gladys Malcolm  (Survivor, Inspiration)
  • Bell Tower Ladies (currently making history!!)
  • Sacajawea (of the Lewis and Clark Expedition)[we also thought it was cool she was a mother and took her baby with her on the adventure]
  • Simone Weil (French Holocaust Survivor & Women’s right’s defender)
  • All of our Grandmothers & Ancestors (They stood strong for us, so we could all be standing here today)
  • Judy Wascalycia-Leis (former Member of Parliament for Winnipeg North for 13 years)
  • The 3 Neices: Francoise, Margeurite & Marie Langlois (travelled with Samuel De Champlain after being gifted to him!)[We had some of the descendants of these ladies in attendance!]
  • Mary Crow Dog (Super Granny)
  • Louise Michele (French Women’s Political activist)

You are invited to join us next week as we explore traditional teachings of the FIRE, in an effort to encourage safety in the community, also an opportunity for young men and community members to learn about their responsibility as men (protectors of the fire).

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE Re-Igniting The Fire FB Event Page!

AYO Honoured at #VAD2014

Thanks to Ko’ona, WCDanyting,  Greg, Nona, Ramona, Shaunna, Toussaint for helping honour AYO! Leadership at the 2014 North End Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on March 25th 2014. Special shout out to the organizing committee and the entire North End Community Helpers Network for pulling off such a classy event – we feel honoured!


AYO Leaders Honoured
– Magnus Bane (Siobhan Cochrane)
– Romondo Nilles
– Riel Dubois
– Ninoondawah Richard
– Mark D Head
– Grace Scott
– Jenna Liiciious Wirch
– Michael Champagne
– Kale Bonham

Congratulations to Evander & Creeway Sisters – You Are #FriendshipsBest !

friendships best BANNER 2014

On Thursday March 20th, 2014 “Friendship’s Best Dance Crew” took place at the Indian & Metis Friendship Centre of Winnipeg (45 Robinson). The IMFC Youth Advisory Council worked hard over the last number of months in partnerships with the Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth Program, Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, Native Communications Incorporated & JustTV to name a few!

The day Began…

We began with some dancing courtesy of DJ Jordan Omand, followed by some dancing games and spot dances for the children in attendance. It was fun for all. This was also when the people came in, including our guest judges Miss Meliss (NCI) and Erica Daniels (JustTV). We had several entries to dance, but in the end only one person in the single category, and one in the group category came out. This meant that we were able to crown both Evander Twoheart and the Creeway Sisters with the title of 2014 Friendship’s Best Dancers!



The Performances

Ladies first, we had the Creeway Sisters who explained to us their name was due to a combination of Cree and Ojibway dancers  in the group(CREE + ojibWAY). These young ladies were great role models performing to a traditional pow wow song and wowing the audience with their coordinated and hip hop infused traditional demonstration. Next we saw Evander Twoheart, who has been dancing for over 10 years! He began the evening performing a hoop dance for over 7 minutes and finished our evening with an encore performance in Men’s Traditional gear. These young people have earned and demonstrated the true reason why we will be calling them “Friendships Best” For the next year!!

Special Guests



We were fortunate to have special performers in the house including the infamous Ojibway Elvis! He got us all shook up with 30 minutes of glittering excitement – dazzling us with his spot on Elvis impersonation dedicated to the elders. Next we had our finale for the evening Sagkeeng’s Finest – who performed with a 6 year old dancer. They even had 2 younger men in attendance, not in uniform who went on stage bare foot and judged as well. All in all the special guests were fantastic!

Stay Tuned

The winners will be awarded a variety of prizes and will now have special guest spot at the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre’s Aboriginal Day Pow Wow as well as performing onstage at the Vision Quest Conference!! Stay tuned for more announcements on what these amazing young people are up to as well as in depth interviews with each of the groups!

Special shout out to all the kids who danced and especially to these fine young people for their awesome dance moves and their positive example!


Dear Thunderbird


Dear Thunderbird

I remember when you were just an empty lot…but now you have become so much to so many. A place of peace for those besieged because of who they are, a place of learning for young people when they want to connect. You have been invaluable to my own spiritual learning, the ceremonies, the responsibilities and the opportunities to welcome travelers, receive and send them off in a good way. Thunderbird, you have been the guide for the young people of our community for so many years before we even knew you. And then you rose from the empty lot, in the middle of the exploitation and the guilt based charity. Strong, proud and like nothing we had ever seen. Traditional, warm, a reminder that Indigenous doesn’t mean drunk – a physical reminder of the beauty that lay inside of each of us. You welcomed the young people in when we had no money, only ideas. You helped Aboriginal Youth Opportunities begin on that cold Spring day , four years ago – March 17th, 2010. And look at that has happened since then….you have hosted drum gatherings, welcomed water walker’s, hosted birthday parties and celebrations for us young people. All this time, we couldn’t pay you. Not in dollars anyway, because we didn’t have many of those for ourselves. Many of us were homeless as we did this work – until we got to Thunderbird House. But instead, we worked. We learned the teachings you provided space for us to learn about, and we applied them. We did dishes, we swept floors, we helped elders – we were the helpers you showed us we were. That ethic applied to our work, and to our relationships with our friend, families and neighbours on the street brings us closer together. We  have tried to be the good ancestors, thinking seven generations ahead in our actions, and trying to give away our gifts as best we can in our community – asking for compensation only when it is possible from those we serve. We feel your pain – and are scared of what might happen if the Thunderbird House closed its doors? The very thought is terrifying. The next generation of AYO Leaders wouldn’t have a safe place to cry, heal and learn. They wouldn’t have a safe place to let their spirits soar for the first time, being brave enough to pick up a drumstick or begin to learn their own native language. Thunderbird House our young people need you, and we will begin to work in whatever ways you tell us we should, to help you stay open, and stand strong for our children, and theirs too. We love you for what you have done and what you continue to do.

Aboriginal Youth Opportunities stands with Circle of Life Thunderbird House & will raise awareness about their need for support in and around Winnipeg and Turtle Island. We don’t know how we are going to help you yet, but we know we have to start with love.


PS – Check out their status on March 17th, 2014


The theft that happens at Thunderbird House is regrettable. 
We have seen many items disappear. Both from the TBH itself, and from our numerous visitors.
That is the nature of our home. It is open for everyone. 
Unfortunately, not everyone is thankful for the house.
Unfortunately for some it is an opportunity to steal.
We are in a difficult situation. 
We have no money to keep the doors open.
We have no money to keep people from stealing.
But we have to keep the doors open.
That is why the volunteers, the renters are important to the house.
So the doors can be open to everyone.
What can we do?
That is our situation.
We hope that the City of Winnipeg, may decide to put us on their list of Community Centres and provide us with operating funds.
We hope that more of the community sees the opportunities and benefit of TBH and decide to rent space.
We say thank you for your patience.
We say thank you for your support.
We hope that the turn of events has not soured you to the good that can happen at Thunderbird House.
We can only pray that the people who steal eyes open to what they are doing.

Blanket Resistance

This week at Meet Me @ the Bell Tower, we had an event called the Blanket Exercise. It was presented by the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue and KAIROS – Winnipeg Chapter was in partnership with the Indigenous Family Centre. We knew that the topic was colonization and were prepared to deal with a heavy topic, one we deal with on a regular basis but this time we were experiencing a new activity. We shared some information online before the event, but many people do not check our Facebook page and simply come to the Bell Tower each week to visit with the regulars (Bell Tower family), ring the bell and belong. This week we were happy to welcome many new guests to the bell tower as you can see in the group photo of the night (that we took once we went back inside) [another AYO Shout out to Greg Littlejohn, our resident photographer for capturing the below image]

blanket exercise at the bell tower

It was a pretty intense exercise. Many people learned a lot about history. The guest facilitators did a good job handling the bell tower. The exercise called for some interesting activities to take place. The blankets represented the land, so everyone walked on the blankets (no shoes in the family centre please) as the facilitators read out various scripts. Going throughout time, starting with first contact with Europeans in the 1500s, the treaties in the 1700s, the Indian Act, Residential Schools and broken promises. Throughout the exercise, I was so proud of members of the Bell Tower family for being their usual rowdy selves and not cooperating with the rules of the game as history was read out to us. I truly believe that the actions displayed by members of our family throughout this activity were very much representative of the tenacity and determination of our communities – since forever.

  • Scripts corrected – Throughout the exercise we were more than vocal when we heard parts of history that were incomplete in their delivery. We were also honest and vocal when reading scripts ourselves when we felt like additional information was required.
  • Blankets unkicked – The facilitator was required to go around and remove blankets as the script went on and many were offended by the kicking of the blankets, since they represented the land. The offensiveness was likely intentional and by design, but it didn’t stop us from going behind the facilitator and unkicking the corners of our blankets behind them. Good job guys.
  • “Don’t let go” – there was a part where some of us, including me, represented the children who were taken away to residential schools. We were taken to a blanket separated from the rest of the group. At one point were brought back to participants who were holding hands in the circle, representing our home communities. When the facilitator told the participants to let go of their hands, to represent the challenges in the communities, many of the bell tower said ‘don’t let go’ and refused to do so. They resisted, everyone witnessed that, and I believe that THAT was  a true part of history.
  • Breaking out of residential school – The narrator read on, until he got to the 2008 apology by Stephen Harper (which we corrected details about, that the speaker of the house was not sitting in the chair at the time of the apology, as he must be when laws are passed). However, some of us were still standing on the ‘residential school blanket’. I asked if we could leave, since the residential schools were closed in 1996, and he said he would get to us…which he didn’t. When he got to the sharing circle part of the script, me and the other residential school blanket students broke out of residential school and sat back with the rest of the circle.
  • Put the blankets back – After a couple people shared, one of our regulars said they didn’t want to continue with the exercise until we all put the blankets back. He was very articulate in stating, after the few seconds it took to put all the blankets back on the floor he said ‘obviously its gonna take more than 45 seconds to fix what has happened here, but this is where we need to go’. The facilitators told me that they don’t encourage groups to put the land back because they don’t wanna let non-indigenous participants ‘off the hook’ and I can respect that. But I also love how at the Bell Tower we finish our evening with hope….always.

These are some examples that made me so proud of the way our community is healing. At the end of the night, many of our regulars addressed their own feelings about the exercise, sharing freely how they felt, but in usual bell tower style, sharing their recommendations on how future BEs could be facilitated in a more respectful and sensitive way.  Working cooperatively with groups and learning together is part of why MM@BT exists. I am also happy to report that I am in email connection with the folks who deliver the blanket exercise and will continue to collect feedback from our bell tower participants and share it with all parties involved. Thank you all for your beautiful blanket resistance – we are strong – we are healing. [YOU CAN SEE VIDEOS OF THE SCRIPTS BEING READ OUT ON MM@BT F.B. PAGE thanks to @WCDanyting for capturing them]

Forever resistant,


MTS Future First Community Grants

MTS now accepting applications for

Future First Community grants

Ten $10,000 awards to be presented in May 2014


MTS is very pleased to invite youth-serving organizations in Manitoba to apply for one of ten MTS Future First community grants. These grants form part of MTS’s new community investment program – Future First:  Connecting Today’s Youth to Tomorrow.  The objective of our program is to support organizations like yours working to remove barriers to success and help our young people achieve their full potential.

For the inaugural year of the Future First Community grants, MTS will present a total of ten $10,000 grants to organizations focused on bettering the lives of Manitoba’s young people.

To be considered for a Future First community grant, interested organizations are invited to submit an application form that clearly identifies how the program or project achieves at least one of the following results for Manitoba youth under age 24: Enhance knowledge, skills and/or leadership capabilities Develop/acquire skills to make healthy and positive life choices
Increase capacity to cope with life’s challenges
The deadline to apply is March 30, 2014.  We look forward to awarding the first Future First community grants at a special Manitoba Day celebration in May.

For details about the application process and criteria, please visit http://www.mts.ca/futurefirst. You can also contact our Community Investment and Communications Officer, Erin Bartlett for more information at futurefirst@mts.ca or by phone at (204) 941-7378.   And keep in touch by following us on Facebook and Twitter!

Best regards,

Roslyn Dally

Manager, Community Investment & Employee Volunteerism




Note from MC: I bumped into some MTS awesomeness (feat Maxine Peters) recently at Count Me In Winnipeg where they shared more jnfo about Future First & also had this cool photo booth!



Friendships Best Dance Crew 2014

You’re Invited!

Indian & Metis Friendship Centre’s Youth Advisory council is working alongside many community partners to bring you FRIENDSHIPS BEST Dance Crew 2014! Featuring a fierce competition between local dance groups (All dance styles are invited) where one group will be crowned the best! Sharing the stage alongside Canada’s Got Talent winner’s Sagkeengs Finest & the one and only Ojibway Elvis, youth between 10 & 30 are encouraged to register with Kerri by the deadline of March 14th, 2014 by calling Kerri @ (204)586-8441.

friendships best BANNER 2014

March 20th, 2014 from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ 45 Robinson St.
Dance Crews Aged 10-30
Group Registration Deadline March 13th, 2014
$ 20.00 entry fee per group ** Minimum of 3 to a group ** Admission $5.00 @ the door ** Guest Judges!!**

** SPECIAL GUESTS – Sagkeengs Finest & Ojibway Elvis **


Winners are to hold name “Friendships Best Dance Crew” for 1 full year!
Performance IMFC National Aboriginal Day Pow Wow
Cash Prizes

For more details, or to register please phone the Indian & Metis Friendship Centre for Kerri @ 204-586-8441

This event was created by the Youth Advisory Committee, come out and support community events for youth by youth!


friendships best poster