Happy National Aboriginal Peoples Day!

Aba’wath’tech, Tansi, Oki, Welcome to the 2nd Year Launch Of IYOP 2022!

On National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2021, True North Aid was excited to launch the Indigenous Youth Opportunities Program (IYOP). Since then, IYOP has awarded 7 grants to youth from across central and western Canada!

Stay tuned for the date when 2022 applications will be accepted! We look forward to hearing from all youth across Canada!

Indigenous Youth (13-30-year-olds) from across Canada will be invited to apply for a grant (from $250 – $1,000) towards boosting their initiatives and projects.

All strengths-based projects: from arts, music, sports, to traditional and cultural or uniquely crafted- are welcome!

BONUS marks for ideas that helped Youth uncover their personal Superpowers! Whether you are a musician, carver, sculptor, landscape, or beading artist; community organizer or designer/music DJ… we want to hear from you! Tell us how you used your Superpower for your own wellbeing and wellness.  



Here is a sample of Strengths-based activities:

o    Your own strength(s)-based activity

 o   Sports- based: baseball, hockey, skating, lacrosse, fitness classes, weightlifting workshops.

o     Indoor Activities-hobbies club; board games club, sewing/quilting/bead making/dream catcher/moccasins/curtain/dresses clubs and workshops.

 o     Outdoor Activities-canoeing, fishing, and camping groups

 o     Performing Arts- based -learning an instrument, acquiring new language, singing, dancing, cooking classes, start up a business, or writing a book.


Thanks to our early supporters True North Aid launched a pilot of the Indigenous Youth Opportunities Program (IYOP). Visit their stories below!

Meet The Youth Leaders

  • Dakota Crawler Rollingmud

    Dakota is from the Stoney Nakoda Nation of Treaty 7 in southern Alberta. He lives with his grandparents and siblings. Dakota’s Eagle- level project is about combining his super talents in album cover designs and music. For his sharp, geometric and colourful designs, Dakota draws inspiration from shapes, diagrams and symbols of the surrounding mountains, rivers and flowers, around him.  His goal is to also produce original fusion tracks of Pow Wow, Country and Rock music that can be shared with the rest of Canada. Dakota’s love of his family- especially his Grandmother and Grandfather- buoys his Superpowers!    The IYOP Team is excited to support Dakota with music production time and connections to other artists.

  • Kathlyn Swampy-Starr

    Hi, My name is Kathlyn Swampy-Starr, an Ojibwa young woman from Sagkeeng First Nation. I am working towards becoming one of the youngest beauty aestheticians and an accomplished role model for other Indigenous youth. I am fourteen years old; I have used cosmetics as a way to navigate and overcome my own issues with mental health such as anxiety. The way I incorporated cosmetics into my life has shaped me on who I am today. That reclamation of confidence and self-esteem is something I want other youth to embrace. It is not just about looking good but is about feeling good with ourselves, feeling good in our own skin. As Indigenous women we have faced many barriers especially being a young indigenous woman I have had to overcome many obstacles and I know I will be facing more obstacles. Some my inspiration for my designs come from my Dreams, my Dreams are very important in my line of work, if I can’t see it, I cant draw it. I am looking forward for you all to see my social media launch in June 2021.

  • Tricia Young


    Hello good day, My name is Tricia Young & my Indian name is Bluebird women. I am a mother of 2 & also a youth advocate for my community. I am also apart of the Nakoda Youth Council, mainly in the Communications Department. I am fluent in my language and thrive to make sure our people don’t lose our language. I am a Jingle Dress dancer known as a healing dance so as my late grandmother would say, ‘dance for the people. Always pray for the family and those who need it.’. Growing up I was taught to always have respect and be kind to others. I am continuing my education to become a child & youth care counsellor, and bring back what I’ve learned to my community. I want to become the best role model for my daughters so that I can make them proud.

    Ishnyish, thank you!

  • Alyssia Sutherland

    Good day, I am Alyssia Sutherland from Peguis First Nation. I’m a 25 year old Dakota/Ojibwa mother of two boys. I graduated from Yellowquill College in 2016 where I was Class Valedictorian, I attend university for a year right after I graduated. I started sewing in 2019 to express my creativity and to release the stresses of becoming a mother for the first time. Ally’s Ribbons official became my business January 2020, through Ally’s Ribbons I wanted to see our youth getting back to our roots and feeling fabulously comfortable with wearing ribbon skirts. I also wanted to keep up with today’s fashion and infuse it into our native ribbon skirt. My objective is to bring more youth back to our ceremonies
  • Russell Grisdale

    Hiii, I’m Russell from Brokenhead Ojibwa nation.  I first started the project as something that would pay my bills, but as I looked more into the project itself I saw a unique opportunity that would allow me to, not only give to my community, but to also try to bring people together. As I self reflected during this process, I saw how my unique talents and perspectives would help to bridge a cultural gap. My biggest inspirations are my two sisters, Nona and Brittany. They strive to do their best and are always pushing themselves to improve.

    My project aims to bring people together of all walks of life through the use of pop culture in my pins.
  • Destin Swampy

    Hello, I am Destin Swampy from Sagkeeng and Peguis. I am 13 years old and my business is specifically working with indigenous elders in the reserves or in the city. During the summer I water plants, mow lawns, fix fences. During the winter I make sure I have salt for stairs and walk ways are shovelled. Manitoba winters are brutal and I am constantly slipping on ice, imagine our elders trying to get around!

    My inspiration is my grandfather Henry Swampy, he helps me with all my ideas and drives me where I need to be. My grandfather helps every person in his path and never expects anything in return, I always make sure his land is maintained.

    My little brothers Dracen and Dreydan are my main helpers. I love talking them around and showing them how to respect our land. Eventually I would like to expand this work.
  • Taylor Gray

    Hi there, my name is Taylor Gray, Métis women in Winnipeg who is also a certified Personal Trainer and owner of Gray Area Fitness. My passion is food and fitness. I love challenging my body and mind through movement. I created Gray Area Fitness with the goal to get women loving their bodies and to ditch the feeling of not feeling enough. The Gray Area Is NOT black and white, it is for ALL fitness levels. My focus at Gray Fitness is to find what works for YOU, and what type of movements that you enjoy.

    Meet The Team

    • Daryl Kootenay – Social Media

      Daryl Kootenay is a Traditional singer, dancer, artist, speaker, youth leader. Daryl is a father to his 2 beautiful daughters from the Stoney Nakoda Nation of Treaty 7 in southern Alberta, and a member of the Dine’ (Navajo) Nation in New Mexico from his father’s heritage. 

      After graduating high school Daryl travelled globally to volunteer his time in countries such as Peru, Nicaragua and Africa working with Canada World Youth first as a participant, then an intern and then employee. He has been a part of CWYs Provisional Aboriginal Youth Committee where he participated in the “Aboriginal Youth and Confederation: Learning from the past, building for the future conference” in 2014, an event cohosted by CWY and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island, as part of the PEI 2014 Charlottetown Conference sesquicentennial celebration.  He was also a delegate for his nation and CWY at the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Rights, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City (Sept 2014).

      Daryl has actively volunteered in his community of Morley, Alberta in a variety of roles. This includes being a group leader for the Project Nakoda Outdoor Wilderness Experience (NOWE) and co-founding the Stoney Nakoda Youth Council in 2014 which has travelled to a number of significant United Nations and North American Youth events. He has the tremendous honor of being awarded the Governor General’s “Sovereignty’s Medal for Volunteers” in June 2017 for his work.

    • Tosha Kootenay – Web Developer

      Aba’wath’tech, Ya’aat’eeh, Hello there! My name is Tosha Kootenay. I am Nakoda Sioux, from Morley, Alberta, born for Naa’Kai Dine’e (Mexican clan) of the Navajo Nation in the southwestern region of the United States.

      I am the website developer for the Indigenous Youth Opportunities Program (IYOP). From an early age I have always had a natural understanding and ability to work with computers in all its forms, from hardware to programing, to the internet. My interest in website development started on a social network called Myspace. It was there that I learned about coding and how to manipulate different elements to customize my profile at the time. From there I was hooked! Website development is my passion, but I also love to do graphic arts, and work with multimedia. I thrive to keep up with the latest programing and software so that I can continue to design websites that are impactful, easy to navigate yet visually appealing.

    • Amanda Chapman – Media and Communications Advisor

      Amanda is the media and communications advisor on the IYOP team working closely with Daryl to help amplify the exceptional content he creates for the program.  She is also the founder of The Good Harbinger, a media consultancy whose mission it is to help brands and charities that truly contribute to the well being of humans, animals and the planet get their voices heard and their offerings advocated for. With over 20 years of experience working in world class global media agencies, she offers access to quality strategic counsel, connections and advertising campaigns.

    • Carolina Budiman – Senior Program Advisor

      With a keen interest and passion for community development issues affecting the North, Carolina was previously an Executive Board Director of True North Aid. The Indigenous Youth Opportunities Program (IYOP) will be a priority program for the organization that creates pathways to business enterprise and skills development for Indigenous Youth throughout Canada. Carolina is excited and honoured to lead IYOP with a team of talented Indigenous Youth leaders- Daryl and Toshia; and guided by our Knowledge Keeper Teresa Snow. 

       With over 20 years in technical project management in the international health & agribusiness development sector- she is excited to be serving communities closer to home. Currently, as President of Indigenous Innovations Shelter Corporation, she is delighted to work with cross-functional teams- from Federal, Provincial, First Nations governments to private civil and construction firms- to build homes and co-create neighbourhoods with First Nations communities that residents will thrive and enjoy. While always leading projects with heart, Carolina practices evidence-based and data derived decision making and shares a strong tenacity for solutions.  Thank you !