Helping Aboriginal youth make their voices heard
Families, Multiculturalism Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:30 AM

NANAIMO - The B.C. government is providing $375,000 to give Aboriginal youth a meaningful opportunity to engage, be connected, be heard and be inspired, at the 10th annual Gathering Our Voices conference.

Gathering Our Voices is hosted each year by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. This year, more than one thousand Aboriginal youth from across Canada, between the ages of 14 and 24, will take part in the conference, which is held in a different region of the province each year.

This year, Gathering Our Voices focuses on the themes of Aboriginal health, language, culture, the environment, education, life-long learning, sports and recreation. These themes will be reflected in over 50 workshops, a 50-booth career and education fair, cultural and recreational activities, evening events and motivational speakers.

This year's conference is being co-ordinated by Della Preston, a graduate of the B.C. government's Aboriginal Youth Internship Program. This program gives youth the opportunity to build skills that they can then use in the broader world. After her internship at the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and the Musqueam Indian Band, Preston was hired by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres as their Youth Conference Co-ordinator.


Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Mary Polak -

"Gathering Our Voices gives Aboriginal youth a chance to connect and learn about the tools available to help them make choices about education and the careers available to them."

"The Province's support for this conference is an investment in the future, because Aboriginal youth are the fastest-growing demographic in the province and will play a key role in keeping B.C. strong."

Children and Family Development Minister Mary McNeil -

"This conference is a wonderful opportunity to bring together Aboriginal youth from across the province to share their knowledge and experiences."

"Gathering Our Voices provides Aboriginal youth with access to role models and mentors in their communities and is a worthwhile investment that serves to build a strong foundation for the future."

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon -

"I am looking forward to attending this year's Gathering Our Voices conference, which is an incredible opportunity for Aboriginal youth from across Canada to connect."

"It's an honour for Nanaimo to host this event, now in its tenth year, at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre."

Quick Facts:

  • Aboriginal youth is the fastest-growing demographic in B.C.
  • The Aboriginal labour force is expected to grow twice as fast as the rest of Canada's labour force in the next decade, so they will be an important part of B.C.'s future economic growth.

Learn More:

For more information about Gathering Our Voices, visit:

For information about the provincial government's Aboriginal Youth Internship Program, visit:


Maria Wilkie
Communications Director
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
250 361 7720

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