Michael Champagne

A life long North Ender, Michael is one of the founders of AYO! Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, an anti-gang youth movement that has been breaking stereotypes and creating opportunities since 2010.

AYO has been behind initiatives like the Selkirk Street Banners and the FWD newspaper by, for and about North End youth and run out of area high schools. Recently, they started a younger-kids’ group called North End Opportunities Network (NEON).

Michael is also a community organizer and public speaker who has traveled across Canada sharing teachings, acronyms, and strategies with youth leaders and educators. He started volunteering and joined different clubs, such as cadets, where he learned to be deliberate about everything he projects, from his speech to the way he dresses. In Grade 12, he was the first co-president of student council because he didn’t like the imbalance of power between the president and the vice-president. Then in 2005, he started working in local community groups, where his passion for helping North End youths find their voice was really sparked.

Althea Guiboche

Althea Guiboche is a single mother, author, poet, activist and humanitarian. Having been approached by the homeless and the hungry for food or money, Althea decided it was time to make a difference.

She bakes homemade bannock, currently feeding 400 people on a weekly basis at the corner of Dufferin and Main Street. Got Bannock? is a grassroots cause to feed the hungry, the homeless, and the less fortunate wandering the cold streets of Winnipeg.

Undeterred when the Province tried to close her down and her van was vandalized, Althea acquired the proper paperwork and with the help of friends, continued her philanthropic ways, giving away bannock and soup to the homeless every Thursday afternoon. “Although I am in the poverty cycle myself, I still do all I can to help out. There is always someone worse off out there. It makes you appreciate what you do have, makes you feel part of the world, and makes you feel absolutely ecstatically happy!”

Ken Opaleke

Ken came to Winnipeg from Jamaica as a child with his mom in the late 1970s and they made their home in the West Broadway area.

He studied at Red River College, where he earned his Child and Youth Care certification. The Director of the West Broadway Youth Outreach. Ken has worked tirelessly for over 22 years with inner city kids to develop their skills & abilities to reach their full potential. His enthusiasm, energy, and passion for this program is unmatched.

WBYO provides after school & summer programs, giving kids a safe & fun environment, physical activity, and healthy snacks at no cost. Their programs include Homework Club, Cooking Club, swimming, sports & music lessons, and event outings to name just a few. Ken’s motto everyday is to “out-energize every child” at the centre, which sees 740 kids come through its free programming each year. Ken’s four ongoing goals at WBYO are: 1. Have 10 doctors come out of WBYO (there are two, with three others in medical school); 2. Start a WBYO scholarship program (in progress); 3. Get more space (the current location is just 7.6 metres x 4.2 metres); 4. Never take a sick day.

Fred Penner

A children & family entertainer, Fred’s visibility has allowed him the privilege and joy of using his voice to “bring something of value” as a spokesperson for organizations like UNESCO, World Vision, UNICEF, and the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.

In 2005, Fred journeyed to Zambia, Africa with World Vision to host a program for Child Sponsorship in the Western World. In 2000, the Canadian Institute of Child Health honoured Fred for his contributions to the well-being and safety of children.

He is also a humble recipient of the Order of Canada, the highest recognition given to a Canadian Citizen. A four time recipient of the Parents’ Choice Award and the man Los Angeles Parent called the “Canadian Minister of Positivity” has successfully transformed children’s entertainment into a family affair. Offering his broad talents to speak to the family unit and express his feelings about where the world is going and what children are learning. ”Never underestimate your ability to make a difference in the life of a child.”

Owen Settee

Owen was a 13 year old, grade eight student at Deerwood Elementary School in Thompson. When he became aware of the homeless people in Thompson, observing them going through garbage bins for food and sleeping outside and in the bushes, he began helping by buying them food and giving them spare change.

Owen has since been the main driver for three initiatives in Thompson which help the needy. He created a food drive for the Thompson Homeless Shelter’s annual Christmas dinner by putting out food donation boxes in locations such as his school, Smook Contractors, Laban where he trains in mixed martial arts, and as far away as Cross Lake. In 2012 Owen started another project called “Pennies for the Homeless” where he challenged local businesses to donate funds, raising $1,358.00. In January 2013, Owen also collected donations for “Surviving the Cold Fundraiser” by collecting food and socks and gloves for the local homeless shelter.