Our History

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is the umbrella association for 25 Friendship Centres throughout the Province of British Columbia. Friendship Centres provide services to Indigenous people living in urban settings.

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and its members have long recognized the need for Indigenous youth to come together in a supportive and encouraging environment. Thus, Gathering Our Voices (GOV) was established in order to raise our hands and honour Indigenous youth for their resilience, strength and leadership.

The Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council (PAYC) acts as a liaison between Friendship Centre Youth Councils and the BCAAFC. PAYC members sit on the GOV Steering Committee and provides input for the event.

The BCAAFC-PAYC has hosted 17 annual Indigenous Youth Leadership Trainings – starting in 1999 with over 100 delegates – in communities across BC, including Prince George, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Kamloops, Victoria, Kelowna, Prince Rupert, Penticton, Richmond, and Port Alberni. Since then, it has grown immensely and continues to grow, where we anticipate over 1000 delegates each year.

Each year, BC Friendship Centres apply to co-host the event, and surrounding First Nations are engaged to ensure the community is consulted from planning to implementation. The event is held in various locations throughout the province to enable the greatest intake of new participants.  This year Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Society will co-host GOV with the help of Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

Since GOV began, the goal for the leadership training has been simple and unwavering: Provide Indigenous youth with the tools to work towards a better tomorrow by improving themselves and the world in which they live. Over the course of four days, delegates gather from across Canada to participate in ceremonies, workshops and engaging, informative and educational experiences.


Further, GOV provides tangible experiences, tools, resources, opportunities, knowledge for youth to take back to their communities. Over the years, many prominent Indigenous role models and leaders have inspired delegates, including Waneek Horn-Miller, Minister Melanie Mark, Dr. Evan Adams, Stan Wesley, Grace Dove, and Jack Saddleback, by sharing their struggles and stories of achievement.