Today the last batch of CBC Manitoba Future 40 finalists were announced. While I was included as one of the finalists (thanks Mom), I have to say that I did not earn this award by myself. In acknowledging this truth, I communicated with CBC asking if I could share this award with Chris Clacio, a fellow AYO Team member who was also nominated; as well as the rest of the AYO Leaders who are all under 40. I did this because I have never once, in the 6 year history of Aboriginal Youth Opportunities undertaken a single project, initiative or campaign by myself. I have had a dedicated, talented and creative team of peers who have been foundational to the successes I have had as a public speaker and community organizer. Being the voice of a movement, means I get a disproportionate amount of credit, when we have only ever operated as a team. Rotational leadership means whoever is best suited to lead at any given time or situation is expected to do so. All this is being asked of urban indigenous volunteer youth leaders with various challenges themselves overcoming educational, employment, housing and life challenges. And yet, 6 years later we have persevered and we are still here. Because of AYO, I was selected as a Future 40 Finalist, but the honour is not mine – it belongs to the entire AYO team. Find below an MC summary of some of our team who didn’t get included by name.
Jenna has been a critical part of AYO since our inception in 2010. This Anishinabekwe was a part of crafting the ARROWS Youth Engagement Strategy in 2008 before AYO was founded and has since taken up a role as a youth empowerment faciitator, a community helper and the megaphone girl. A published author and Status of Women Manitoba committee member, Liiciious brings her attitude and fun style to each engagement that she does. Inspiring in every way, from how she dresses and talks to the way she gets tattooed, Jenna Liiciious has been instrumental in AYO’s success.
MDH is a Metis visionary spirit activist and has been instrumental in AYO’s mission to understand system mliteracy and citizen engagement. He helped breathe new life into AYO Politix, and works collaboratively and creatively with others to craft practical initatives that help citizens. Always emphasizing solutions, MDH is an optimist, a dreamer and a helper. Recently Markus is the visionary behind the North End Economic Development Forum, Citizens Action & InterCivics Cafe!
Our entire operation since the spring of 2012 has centred around our re-branding as a movement and our online presence based at http://www.AYOmovement.com. Grace has been the webhead who has made the site, updates it, manages our email networks and mentors others on the team in digital communications and graphic design. A proud Metis woman, Grace has been involved with many organizations such as the Manitoba Metis Federation and the Indian & Metis Friendship Centre. Probably our most quiet team member, you won’t see Grace in front of a crowd or behind a megaphone, but her contribution is felt every time the AYO team is represented online.
Chris, who was also nominated this year for Future 40, has been a blast of energy within our movement since the fall of 2014 when he began working with us in the village. Eager to learn from indigenous community, Chris has always emphasized the commonalities between indigenous and Filipino communities: emphasizing the role and importance of family. As a helper, Chris can be seen speaking publicly about AYO, system literacy and has even run as a school trustee in the most recent municipal election. Chris is helping AYO build bridges into communities and groups we never thought possible and are grateful for his support everyday. Read his Future 40 Nomination from Nadia Kidwal here!
The visionary behind the 100 Basketballs Campaign is also a media proffessional who is passionate about positive indigenous representation. Since early in 2015, AYO has worked with Lenard to provide increased opportunities in recreation for young people – namely the 100 Basketballs campaign that yielded over 200 basketballs for inner city youth, a game between Winnipeg Police and indigenous ball players as well as a family fun day that brought hundreds of community members together. A gifted speaker, and solutions oriented thinker, Lenard is on the Winnipeg Police Advisory board and is a co-founder of Red Rising Magazine.
Thanks team AYO – and I know I didn’t include everyone, but these are some of the faces you may or may not recognize that have been instrumental in my success as Michael the person.