My name is Amanda Kennedy and I am the Founder of Yotuni Social Enterprise and the youth and I are fundraising and asking for you to please help us so we can continue to help vulnerable Indigenous youth. Let me start by sharing my story about what inspired me to start this organization and why I know it is needed today.
I am First Nation raised in London, ON since the age of 5, with Indigenous roots in Oneida Nations and grew up in Manor Park which is a small west-end neighbourhood in London, ON. Living in a First Nation housing co-op with other marginalized families, mainly from the three closest First Nations, Chippewa, Munsee-Delaware, and Oneida First Nations. Manor Park became home for many First Nation youth and their families. Growing up in Manor Park my peers and I witnessed and experienced a lot of violence, brutality, crime, addictions, racism, lateral violence, and bullying in London, ON. Manor Park became a safe haven between being an urban Indigenous person and marginalized in the city of London, ON.
Today I am proudly Haudenosaunee and Indigenous Woman Innovator, an Advocate for Indigenous Youth and Women, an Innovative Consultant, Educator, Strategic Planner, Facilitator, Community & Economic Developer and Founder of two Social Enterprises; Kuwahs^nahawi Enterprises and Yotuni an Indigenous Youth-Led Social Enterprise.
On January 26, 2021 Yotuni Social Enterprise will be 5 years old. It has been a long difficult journey getting support for it to grow. Over the years I have tried every avenue available from many foundations, government and First Nation funds and supports, but I faced the same obstacles I faced when I was a marginalized and vulnerable youth being misunderstood, underestimated, dismissed and bullied too many times. With no privilege I faced various barriers including being an Indigenous woman with a target on my back and like the rest of my sisters, I fought hard to not become another murder or missing Indigenous woman or girl. I fought many wars, have my own battles and my own stories, just like the rest of the Indigenous youth of yesterday and today.
Through my walk in life and walking with many broken Indigenous warriors, many who have died, I gained a lot of knowledge and experience as a support, advocate, project and community developer, leader and educator. I know a lot of truth, truth from my own stories, from what I have witnessed while advocating, and the truth that many people have shared with me because of my open mind, belief in people that they can change, and passion to help. A truth others choose to not see or are sheltered from. Through that truth and innovative education I created what we as Indigenous youth and what we as Indigenous women and girls all needed yesterday. Yotuni Social Enterprise is a gift for the Indigenous youth and children today.
Through resiliency, today, Yotuni is a youth-led Social Enterprise that provides mentorship, leadership, culture, teachings and traditional ceremonies through Indigenous ways and innovative education. Yotuni consists of mentored Indigenous youth, youth of colour, students, and ally youth, who collaborate to provide teachings, workshops and innovative education to our Indigenous youth on Turtle Island through our digital platforms. Yotuni listens and empowers our youth and their families by hearing their voices and creating space for them to; speak their truth through storytelling, learning, healing and growing together, and sharing their wisdom and connection to land based learning. Bringing forth healing, wellness and growth mentally, emotionally, physically and Spiritually. Together decolonizing and impacting awareness, education and prevention. Breaking vicious cycles of mental health illnesses and intergenerational trauma. Giving the youth a chance in life.
Yotuni means its growing in the Oneida Language and throughout 2020 has grown a lot and now working with Indigenous youth all over Canada through our online digital platforms. Just as we were celebrating and planning for 2021 we sadly found out that we now have a huge barrier to face that could affect us from continuing to do our work and helping vulnerable Indigenous youth.
Three years ago I started consulting, educating and facilitating to help financially support Yotuni and one thing I have learned through my consulting, educating and working with Pillar Nonprofit Network, Western University, Ivey Business School, Brescia University, Kings University College, Thames Valley District School Board, London District Catholic School Board, the City of London, and their communities is there are many people out there, allies who want to help and support. We have applied for many grants and tried all those avenues but those systems are set up with many barriers that make us fail. We believe in people, community and allies and asking for support from you, the people, our ally.
Why We Need Your Help:
Yotuni Social Enterprise was recently Yotuni Charitable Initiative under a charitable platform but due to many issues we have stepped off of that platform and now on our own. Due to recent events and miscalculations by this platform Yotuni is in a financial crisis and could be in jeopardy and have to close our doors. We are needed in our communities, we were essential through 2020 and we know we will continue to be desperately needed in 2021.
Yotuni Social Enterprise was registered on December 21, 2020, on the Oneida Nation of the Thames, on Winter Solstice. We are in the process of getting non-profit and charitable status.
Yotuni supports marginalized, colonized and vulnerable Indigenous youth and their families with mental health and spiritual wellness through two Initiatives consisting of online camps, training, sharing circles, supports and services. Through our TEN, Truth Empowering Nations initiative we have been providing online camps and supports since June 10, 2020. We had an online summer camp and just finished our Standing Bear Leadership Camp December 23rd, 2020.
We want and need to continue to host these camps and to grow in 2021 and asking for support from you, the people, our ally. Please help us get through winter while we get back on our feet by making a donation. Every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated. We are going to be resilient, keep pushing through and ask you to join us and push through by making a donation. By doing so you are helping the Indigenous youth help the vulnerable Indigenous youth and their families. We believe we are stronger together. Much love and gratitude in advance.
Please watch this video made for you by our inspiring Indigenous youth.
- Lisa Bitacola
- Spencer Ashby
- Tracey Ashby
- Jenna Goodhand
- Sarah Beyea
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