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School District 57 hosting Aboriginal Youth Conference after four-year absence

Workshops, lecture sessions at UNBC hopes to empower Grade 7-10 students
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Drum circle - Aboriginal Youth Conference
Drum circle (via Shutterstock)
IMG_0938School District 57 headquarters off Ferry Avenue in Prince George (via Hanna Petersen).
For the first time since 2015, Prince George’s Aboriginal Education Department has brought back a gathering with a goal of bringing Indigenous students together.

School District 57 (SD57) has announced that on Friday (April 26), the Aboriginal Youth Conference will make a return to UNBC’s Canfor Theatre, where over 100 students in Grades 7 to 10 will hear guest speakers on how they can empower themselves and take pride in their ancestry and cultural background.

Students have signed up from 14 different schools in the city, and several others driving from Valemount to the near five-hour event.

“This is for our Aboriginal students to come together with other Aboriginal students in the district to celebrate their culture,” said Patricia Lunden in a statement, who is the Youth Leadership Foci for SD57’s Aboriginal Education Department.

Topics of discussion for the youth in attendance are set to include resilience through the arts, the background of residential schools in Canada, practiced traditions, and continued research on Indigenous history.

And that’s just the first session!

SD57 has broken the conference into two segments; the second half will feature more applied skills for the students to learn, such as campus gardening and smudging, as well as a tour of the UNBC campus and UNBC First Nations Centre.

Entertainment is being provided after a lunch break courtesy of the Didoh Ne Drum Group from Nak’azdli Whuten territory in Fort St. James.

The Aboriginal Youth Conference begins with an opening ceremony at 9:15 a.m. and will end with a closing ceremony at 1:30 p.m.

A list of speakers are as follows:

  • 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)
  • Arctica Cunningham (Learning to Grow: A Crash Course in Campus Gardening)
  • Bev Best (Teaching Smudging/First Nations Tour)



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Kyle  Balzer

About the Author: Kyle Balzer

Kyle Balzer graduated with distinction from BCIT's Broadcast & Online Journalism program in 2016. Since moving to Prince George, he has covered a variety of stories from education & Indigenous relations, to community interests & sports.
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