New funding will support the BC Association of Friendship Centres to expand access, education and training opportunities for Indigenous youth in B.C. during the annual Gathering Our Voices Indigenous youth leadership conference.
“Gathering Our Voices helps Indigenous youth build their leadership skills and encourages them to dream big,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We’re funding Indigenous youth leadership gatherings for cultural celebration, career exploration and connection.”
The $10.35-million grant from the Province will be used to enable approximately 500 more Indigenous youth from First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban and off-reserve communities to attend Gathering Our Voices annually for the next five years. It will allow Gathering Our Voices to focus on ensuring the attendance of youth in care, who have fewer opportunities to attend the event. It will also support the expansion of education and training workshops, and the exhibitors’ hall to include more employment and academic training opportunities for attendees.
“Gathering Our Voices is where I myself identified my dreams and set my goals when I was a teenager,” said Elijah Mack, president, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. “I decided that I wanted to own and operate my own restaurants and I am doing that now. The opportunity to declare my goals and ambitions to my peers and receive their support and encouragement helped me feel like it was possible. This funding will help us make sure thousands more Indigenous kids have that same opportunity.”
Each year, the Gathering Our Voices event is co-hosted by BC Friendship Centres with the support of First Nations throughout the province. The event focuses on providing Indigenous youth with a safe and inclusive environment, free from the impacts of racism, exclusion and poverty, to celebrate Indigenous culture, dream about the future, and engage in career building, training, workshops and tours.
Gathering Our Voices is an Indigenous-led event for Indigenous youth. The 2023 event is being held March 22-25, 2023, in Vancouver.
For more information about Gathering Our Voices, visit: https://gatheringourvoices.ca/