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Aboriginal youth conference set for Friday

Aboriginal students from School District No. 57 will attend an Aboriginal Youth Conference at the University of Northern British Columbia on Friday.

The conference will begin with an opening ceremony at 9:15 a.m. at the Canfor Theatre and will conclude with a closing ceremony at 1:30 p.m. in the same location.

The theme of the conference, for Grade 7-10 students, is Empowering Our Youth. The day will include two sessions of workshops, the first from 9:35 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. and the second from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Speakers in the first session, and their topics of discussion, are: Imani Miller (Growing and Learning to the Four Directions); Godwin H. Barton (Resiliency: Through Music, Stories and Poetry); Tracy Peters (Regalia, Meaning and Songs); Cristian Silva (Over A Hundred Years of Residential Schools in Canada); April Hendrickson (The Masks We Live In); Fiona Prince (Healing Salves); Noelle Pepin (Maker Hour); Ronnie West (Oral Histories and Traditions); Michael Antoine (Drumming/Feather Painting); Chris Brannigan (Moose Hide Campaign: Building Healthy Relationships); UNBC Student Recruitment/Research Ambassadors (Anything Can Inspire Research, We’ll Teach You How).

In the second session, Miller, Barton, Peters, Hendrickson, Prince, Pepin, West and Antoine will cover the same topics. The second session will also include workshops led by Arctica Cunningham (Learning to Grow: A Crash Course in Campus Gardening); and Bev Best (Teaching Smudging/First Nations Tour). As well, the UNBC Student Recruitment/Research Ambassadors will take students on a guided tour of the UNBC campus.

After a lunch break, students will be treated to an hour of entertainment (12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.) at the Canfor Theatre. The entertainment, courtesy of the Didoh Ne Drum Group from Nak’azdli Whuten territory in Fort St. James, will lead into the closing ceremony.

The conference is being presented by School District No. 57’s Aboriginal Education Department.

“This is for our Aboriginal students to come together with other Aboriginal students in the district to celebrate their culture,” said Patricia Lunden, Youth Leadership Foci for the Aboriginal Education Department.

The Aboriginal Youth Conference is being held for the first time since 2015. Students from Valemount and 14 Prince George schools have registered to attend. Total student participation is expected to be 120.