Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO)

April 24, 2019 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby
May 14, 2017 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby

Mission and Purpose

According to their website, Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO) is a “youth movement from Winnipeg's North End [which uses] relationships with organizations, media partners and businesses in order to empower each other."[1] The group is decentralized and grassroots, asserting that their categorization as a ‘movement’ defines them as “the series of actions or activities of a body of persons...a movement towards love, respect and justice.”[2]

Origins and Development

The organization was founded in 2010 when 30 people came together at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House and decided to harness their collective strengths and knowledge towards youth and community empowerment and capacity building.

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

The organization is exclusively made up of volunteers and is completely non-profit. They have no paid staff and no fixed or central place of organization or management. The group relies on community donations for funding and has received support from various local and national organizations including United Way Winnipeg, TEDx Manitoba, the Indian & Metis Friendship Centre, and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.[3]

Specializations, Methods and Tools

AYO uses various methods of resistance to state and colonial (intergenerational) violence such as protest, petition, occupation. However, the group's other activities reflect their commitment community capacity building such as the MM@BT community meet-ups which involve dialogue and deliberation on issues such as race-relations. As well, they group offers numerous volunteer positions with the community policing groups ‘Block Parent’ and ‘Bear Clan Patrol’.

The group’s website is also a place for individuals to discuss issues and plan events. As well, the group’s online ‘Arrow’ initiative provides the public with engagement strategies AYO have learned from their work in the field.

Major Projects and Events

Since its founding in 2010, the group has been involved in the organization and execution of various grassroots, citizen-led initiatives. A full list is available here and a selection of events is listed below:

  • Petition to Keep Our Youth Safe
  • MM@BT (and ongoing serious of get-togethers during which participants are encouraged to discuss issues of crime, poverty and intergenerational violence)
  • #WaterWednesday (weekly gatherings in response to the lack of indigenous access to clean drinking water)
  • AYO Politix (a political literacy initiative)
  • ARROWS Youth Engagement Strategy (an online initiative which seeks to connect community leaders and organizations with youth speakers that have expertise in various issues such as community organizing, poverty, and aboriginal culture. The acronym ARROWS stands for Access, Resources, Relationships, Opportunities, Welcome, Support)[4]
  • Fearless R2W (“a volunteer group of community helpers and parents who want to provide education and advocacy related to child welfare in Manitoba.”[5] The group holds learning and sharing circles every week and organizes meetups over Facebook)
  • 13 Fires Winnipeg: Conversation Series on Racial Inclusion

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Want to contribute an analysis of this organization? Help us complete this section!


The 13 Fires Summit Final Report is available at

AYO was also involved in one of two summits on racial inclusion. The report from the “citizen led, grassroots driven #OurSummitWPG” is available at

See Also


[1] "About," Aboriginal Youth Opportunities,

[2] "Family," Aboriginal Youth Opportunities,

[3] "Family," Aboriginal Youth Opportunities,

[4] "ARROWS," Aboriginal Youth Opportunities,

[5] "Fearless R2W," Aboriginal Youth Opportunities,

External Links

Official Website:

Facebook Page:


MM@BT Case Study:


Lead image: "Meet me at the Bell Tower gathering at the corner of Selkirk and Powers, in Winnipeg," JCI Winnipeg,