It was a chance to connect, to interact, to learn, and to make friends.
A large group of Seabird Island Band Youth attended the GOV (Gathering Our Voices) Aboriginal Youth Conference in Victoria in March. The Youth Group had been fundraising for many months preparing for the Conference, and held flea markets, craft fairs and bake sales to help pay for the trip. Leading the group were Seabird Island Band Youth/Cultural Worker Jonny Williams and Youth Worker Angi Peters.
“I personally gained a lot of knowledge,” said Williams, who attended his first conference in 22 years. “It was a good feeling, and eye-opening regarding how much that our people can do, and how much is out there – and not just in our community. The world is a lot bigger, and I hope Youth were able to take the same thing out of it – that it’s not just our surrounding communities, but our world. There’s so much to offer our people and all people. There were tables everywhere with people from different communities and ideas out there our people could get involved in.”
While Seabird Youth who attended the GOV Conference learned a great deal during their workshops, there was also a group bonding element in play.
“We met a lot of good people and brought out many networking ideas. The pleasure of going on the first trip with some of them – first ferry ride – was amazing. To be a part of that experience was awesome,” said Peters. “The moose hide campaign was cool, and the violence against women workshop. Just having the organizing and the determination to offer Youth these new opportunities was great.”
Above all, this was a conference designed to bring Youth together.
“I’m hoping our Youth took the time to talk with other Youth. I was trying to encourage them to go and talk to other Youth, because they seemed to stick to just Stó:lō Youth – and to welcome other communities and Youth who came in with their own drums and drum with us, and sing with us,” said Williams.
“I hope our Youth made those friendships to do their own networking, add them on Facebook as friends. I’m hoping they made those connections to other Youth where they became friends on social media, which will give them ideas moving forward.”
Seabird Youth learned a great deal at the Conference. So did Seabird’s two Youth Workers.
“Jonny and I were in our own workshops. They were really beneficial. One involved the CEO of the BC Friendship Centers. In that workshop, he got us to look around the table and give each other love eyes, and we had to hug six people. That was awesome,” explained Peters.
“Two of our Youth were so excited when they met someone new, because they were all wearing white shirts, and they would get signatures. Two of the girls, Kayli and Summer, came up and told me they had just met someone in the elevator, and they were so excited. We learned about decolonization and workshops that can be offered here online, so we’re looking into that.”
Watch for the May Yoo Hoo Newsletter, in which Seabird Island Youth will pass along their thoughts on attending the GOV Conference.