Our History

Mosqoy started in 2006. Over a decade later, it is still growing, little by little, through remarkable volunteer hours and donations. We have supported over 70 youth to attend post-secondary educational institutes, and over 150 weavers through capacity-building workshops and fair-trade market outlets. We have spoken to thousands of youth across North America about responsible travel and consumption. Two of our alumni are now on our Peru Board of Directors.

2006

April21-year-old Ashli Akins arrives in Ollantaytambo, Peru, for the first time, as part of a seven-month solo backpacking trip across Central and South America. While living with a local family, she volunteers at a local museum as an art teacher for disadvantaged youth and as a “llama” to carry traditional textiles to and from highland Quechua communities.

Young Ashli with the beautiful city of Ollantaytambo in the background

May – Through her work with weavers in the Patakancha Valley, Ashli hears about the stories of cultural loss from elders in the region. Through her social scene, she hears her friends struggling to obtain jobs and continue their education.

Weavers processing plants

June – Weavers ask Ashli to assist them by finding fair-trade markets for their textiles. Ashli agrees to do what she can (what is now the Q’ente Textile Program), as long as all of the profits return to the communities to support their long-term socioeconomic goals. One of these goals proves to be education. Thus, in response to requests of several youth in the community of Ollantaytambo, as well as community leaders and elders, Ashli and her friend – local Colegio Ollantay graduate, Raul Cobos Mejia – start the T’ikary Youth Program (then called the Youth Bank for the Future).

July – The first cohort of 20 T’ikary Youth Program scholarship students are selected from over 100 applications at the local high school, Colegio Ollantay.

Ashli discussing with community members

July 22 – Mosqoy hosts its commencement event (what is now celebrated as Mosqoy’s birthday!). Here, our scholarship students share beautiful speeches, weavers attend with their hand-woven products, and mothers hike down from their campesino communities to provide a delicious Andean feast. What seemed to be a small community project pivots into an international organization, and on this day, Ashli realizes that Mosqoy will become her life’s work. (Watch Ashli’s TedX Talk: “Unfulfilled Promises: Cultural shrapnel of a traveler” to learn more about this pivotal moment.)

September – Ashli returns to Victoria, Canada, where she recruits volunteers and supporters, and creates a small but dedicated team of passionate Mosqoyites. Through her lectures and workshops in classes over the next few months, Ashli and other volunteers notice a shift in high-school and university students’ consciousness when hearing about the unperceived impacts of their daily decisions, and the invisible realities of development. Ashli decides to formalize these positive conversations, creating Mosqoy’s third and final program, what is now the Mink’a Knowledge Exchange Program.

The first graduating class of the T'ikary Youth Program
The 2006 Mosqoy team

2007

January – Because of amazing volunteer support, fundraising, and partnerships, the first cohort of scholarship students move into their first rented Casa Mosqoy and enrol in their first semester of post-secondary education! Raul takes over as T’ikary Youth Program’s first volunteer resident advisor.

Quechua students hard at work with their studies

October – Mosqoy: Sacred Valley Youth Fund becomes an official Canadian registered charitable organization.

November – We host our first annual Fall Environmental Studies Textile Fair, in collaboration with the University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies.

Colourful balls of yarn
Document being signed

September – Ashli receives the Vicky Husband Award for outstanding volunteer efforts in environmental protection, for her work with Mosqoy’s Q’ente Textile Program. Through this award, she and Vicky become close friends, and Vicky becomes a long-term supporter or “godmother” to Mosqoy.

2008

Ashli with her schoolmates

December – Due to lack of financial support and student sponsors, we cannot enroll all of our selected sponsorship students this year, so we put four of the 15 on a waitlist. The other scholarship students do not want to start the semester without their peers, so they collectively rally to raise the remainder of the funds for their peers’ first semester of school, demonstrating true compassion, reciprocity, and leadership.

Ashli posing with the Youth Program students

2009

June - Because of increased presence of new like-minded NGOs that begin sprouting up in the region, combined with increased tourism traffic, we see that our support for fair-trade market outlets is better used in lesser served, more isolated communities. We respond to requests to work with remote weaving communities in the Mapacho River Valley.

August - Through the friendship of Frida Delgado Chirinos and the efforts of new Board member Sarah Confer, we begin supporting capacity-building initiatives with start-up weaving cooperatives of Huaran and Cancha Cancha.

Community meeting on the side of a mountain
Community members taking inventory

December - Due to the efforts of English-language teacher Gerry Luton, our Ambassadorship is launched, and Rolando Auccapuri Iturriaga spends a semester at the University of Victoria in Canada as our first Ambassador.

2010

January – As a practicum for her International Business Administration degree, T’ikary Youth Program scholarship student Elizabeth Jaimes Canal works as an intern for the Q’ente Textile Program for two semesters.

Rolando posing with his snowboard on a snowy mountaintop
Portrait of Elizabeth, Youth Program scholarship student

March – Our textile program (Mosqoy’s first social enterprise) is officially registered as a B.C. not-for-profit society, Q’ente Textile Revitalization Society. Mosqoy also receives its first annual Canada Summer Jobs grant, allowing us to hire Canadian students as paid interns each summer.

May – Due to circumstances beyond our

control, the T’ikary Youth Program is left

without a leader, so our students step up to keep the project alive. Four senior students (Elvira Huaman Guerra, Ebhert Alvarez Huaman, Rolando Auccapuri Iturriaga, and Adrian Jimenez Suma) voluntarily take over the leadership of the program to co-manage it while finishing their studies, and stay on as co-managers for one year after they graduate. Their leadership skills and reciprocity to the program inspire values that we continue to use in Casa Mosqoy to this day, and exemplify their growth from teenage high-school students to true community leaders.

June – Our first cohort of students graduate from their professional degrees and the Mosqoy program! We hold a community graduation ceremony and invite only those who are directly impacted by the students’ education; 250 people attend.

October – We win the Juror’s Choice Award at the World Art Market, in the textile category, for a manta that was produced in the highland community of Chahuaytire.

2011

January – Thanks to a global video conference by Tim Kitchen, we establish a long-term connection with Ms. Laurie Renton’s grade three class of Battalion Park Elementary School, who fundraises for the Q’enqo Library and whose Peru curriculum comes alive through Mosqoy’s virtual lessons.

March – Mosqoy Peruvian Textiles launches its new product lines – a variety of high-quality textiles in the Traditional, Innovative, and Accessory Lines.

May – The Q’ente Textile Program hosts its first Encuentro, a biennial gathering of weavers from all of our partnering communities, at Casa Huaran.

2012

March – After over a year of hard work, we inaugurate the Q’enqo Library!

2013

March - Our programs are growing fast, and the demand for them is too high to continue operating entirely as a volunteer team. We hire our first paid staff members, Kristina Zoller and Juan Clavijo.

2014

Members of Mosqoy
Weaver pulling a bunch of strings from a partially-woven textile
Bookshelves filled with books at the Q'enqo Library
Traditional beige textile scarf
Ashli posing with Elvira, Ebhert, Rolando, and Adrian
Ms. Renton's grade three class of Battalion Park Elementary
First cohort of students graduating from their professiona degrees and the Mosqoy program
Displays at the Encuentro
Two Mosqoy staff posing on a grassy mountainside
Fingerpaint handprints of various colours on a white wall

March – We host our first Mosqoy Field School service-learning trip with high-school students from Brentwood College School. (Read about the experience here!)

December – We host our first gala at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC, with National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Dr. Wade Davis, as our keynote speaker. With over 200 guests in attendance and a delicious four-course sustainable dinner, this gala pivots us into a new era of fundraising and introduces us to a new family of supporters.

December – The Mink’a Knowledge Exchange Program creates a new department, Research & Advocacy, thanks to Alison Root’s advice, to elevate our impact globally.

2015

2016

July – We celebrate 10 years of service and existence! We hold a community celebration in Ollantaytambo, Peru, one block away from our commencement event 10 years prior, as well as a celebratory gala in Victoria, Canada, later this year.

August - After 10 years of service, Ashli resigns as Executive Director and becomes Mosqoy’s Board president.

Professional framed photographs from Peru on a black wall
First gala at the Fairmont Empress
Ashli laughing with two small Quechua girls
Community celebration in Ollantaytambo, Peru for Mosqoy's 10th anniversary

October – Mosqoy Peruvian Textiles launches its online store, and begins shifting textile sales from ad-hoc fair booths to more financially sustainable retail partnerships in Peru and Canada.

September – We launch our new brand, including our new logo, re-branded Quechua names for our programs, and a brand-new website, to begin our next decade of service!

2017

Red yoga mat bag

August - Thanks to the financial support of SLASummit, Mosqoy partners with the Nueva Esperanza Weaving Association to purchase land in Parobamba! The land will be used for the construction of a communal traditional weaving centre, propagation natural-dye garden, and fair-trade retail outlet.

Traditional weaving centre under construction
New green hummingbird Mosqoy logo

2018

August - After over a year of visioning with both Boards of Directors, advisors, team members, community members, and program alumni, we launch a new era of Mosqoy! We shift to a simpler marketing strategy and a more financially viable model. In doing so, we legally dissolve the Q’ente Textile Revitalization Society and merge under one entity, Mosqoy, with two social enterprises: Mosqoy Peruvian Textiles and Mosqoy Field School, and one charitable program: the Mosqoy Youth Program.

Mosqoy executives talking and planning the future of the organization

July – We move into our first real office in Cusco, Peru! We are part of the Ayni Center co-working space, which hosts like-minded organizations that are dedicated to socially and environmentally conscious missions. We also launch Mosqoy Peruvian Textiles as a social enterprise, with a two-year pilot strategy, including hiring our first paid full-time Textiles Manager, Cusi Saco Chung. It is the beginning of a new era for our textile program, weavers, and fair-trade products! Alongside our status as an official Canadian Charitable Organization, we officially register as a Peruvian Asociación Civil, under one unified name: Mosqoy Peru.

Mosqoy Three-Year Plan cover

October – Based on our new working model and multi-year restructuring process, we launch our new Three-Year Strategic Plan! Mosqoy also participates in our first “DO DAY: The International Day of Doing,” where people all over the world host events and workshops to create change. This year's theme was the reduction and refusal of plastics. We were in charge of hosting Do Day in the region of Cusco, in collaboration with Casita Huaran! We focused on creating a sustainable tourism movement in the region.

September - Our Alpaca Recuperation Project is launched in Cancha Cancha in collaboration with Ashli’s doctoral project at UBC to support alpaca-herders and spinners of the Illariy Ch’aska Women’s Cooperative in their effort to recuperate their traditional knowledge and diversity of natural alpaca colours amidst fast-fashion market pressures. It is the beginning of a 10-year-long project. Our Mosqoy graduate, Rolando Auccapuri Iturriaga, is now the owner and operator of local tour agency Willka Travel. With the income from his tour agency’s profits, he becomes a Mosqoy Member, donating monthly to the next generation of students! He is the first of our students to do so, beginning our dream of closing the circle with our very own graduates!

2019

April – Mosqoy's founder, Ashli Akins, is honoured alongside Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire and author Ursula K. Le Guin as Humanist of the Year at the University of Victoria's inaugural Humanitas Awards.

WhatsApp Image 2019-12-16 at 5.42.39 PM.jpeg

July – We employ Anshela Paravecino Kehuarucho as our first full-time Quechua translator and cross-program community facilitator to invest in our values of community, accessibility, and inclusion.

August – We are famous! We design our very own crepe for La Boheme’s menu, “La Mosqoy”, with proceeds from each sale going to our Youth Program. As a result of an amazing team effort headed by Cusi, we also launch our first textile catalogue for Mosqoy Peruvian Textiles, featuring all of our new products and designs, and gorgeous photo shoots in the high Andes. 

September – After a few years of putting our Mosqoy Youth Program on hold due to a lack of funding, as well as a need to restructure and adapt the program, we select our 8th cohort of scholarship students - 8 students from 5 rural highland communities. 

December – Our former student, Nohemi Orihuela, from the highland community of Soccma, graduates from the Khipu Institute as a professional accountant, marking our 50th Mosqoy graduate!

January – Thanks to a generous grant, we move into a brand-new (but still rented) Casa Mosqoy, which we use as our headquarters and student dormitory. It is a dream come true, with a garden, terrace, workshop spaces, and plenty of rooms for our students! 

2020

Ashli posing with Mosqoy volunteers at the first office in Cusco

May – Mosqoy’s work is featured in National Geographic!

March – COVID-19 hits, and everything is put on hold. Our students were en route to move into Casa Mosqoy (March 14) the day before we went into the world’s longest lockdown. We begin to go into crisis mode, adapt our programs, and find new ways to support our weavers and students, while trying to keep our small team employed. We begin working with food-basket campaigns, virtual-learning certificate programs, and virtual workshops.

September – In collaboration with four other NGOs across Latin America, we launch the Virtual Field School, a certificate program that focuses on environmental change and sustainable communities across Latin America. 100% of the proceeds from the course go to the NGOs’ charitable programs during this challenging time of the pandemic.

December – After a lot of DIY renovations, Casa Mosoqy opens its doors to the public for the first time, with a (small, COVID-safe) fair-trade, handmade holiday fair.

January – One of our first Mosqoy graduates, who has been with us since our inception in 2006, comes full-circle! We hire Elvira Huaman Guerra as Casa Mosqoy’s new Resident Advisor, to be “mamá” of our students. 

2021

March – Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, we launch our new and improved Mosqoy Youth Program curriculum, which includes a holistic complementary curriculum alongside university classes, consisting of English second-language classes, psychological and emotional support, Quechua language empowerment, certificate programs, tutoring support, and many other necessary and exciting additions.

April – After waiting 1.5 years due to COVID-19, we begin recruiting our new cohort (our 9th!), opening up the Mosqoy Youth Program to more communities and youth in need across the region, and partnering with four local educational partners to do so.

Long-term team members who were instrumental in helping us accomplish these milestones include Brent Akins, Julia Anderson, Christina Burns, Cara Clatanoff, Denise Decloux, Bethany Foot, Reanna McMillan, Jasmine Nielsen, Beatriz Palacios Fernandez, Sonya Rokosh, and many more!