1. Michael Champagne
2. Jodie Layne
3. Althea Guiboche / Lenard Monkman (tie)
Though Michael Champagne was voted favourite activist, he rejects the title.
“I don’t really see myself as an activist. I see myself as a helper. I’m more of a helper. I view activism as helping. I’m not in charge,” Champagne says.
However, it is Champagne who founded both Aboriginal Youth Opportunity (AYO) and Meet Me At The Bell Tower. Through those organizations, Champagne has used his voice to improve the lives of aboriginal youth, not just in Winnipeg, but across Canada where he has traveled to speak.
Champagne says he’s been a public speaker for the past 10 years, but started using his voice to create change about five years ago.
He says his ultimate goal is to end youth suicide.
“I’m trying to set a good example. I want other people to look at the energy and the dedication I try to put into the solutions I believe in to address challenges,” Champagne says.
Why has he been so successful?
“I’m loud and I have a microphone,” Champagne says.
In reality, he credits it to his ability to connect with people. Part of this is working along with others to create change.
“The biggest accomplishment was in 2010 when I asked young people in the North End for help,” Champagne says.
With them, he formed AYO, which is a group made up of youth volunteers and partners with local businesses, media and organizations.
According to the website, the group listens to youth ideas, plan and implements them to improve life in the North End.
“Along with other youth leaders at Aboriginal Youth Opportunity, we now have a year’s long model of indigenous leadership and volunteerism,” Champagne says.
Champagne is also involved in Inner City Voices, Healing Still Continues and Politix.