Our Story

Culture, Opportunity and Inspiration

The Gathering Our Voices (GOV) Indigenous Youth Leadership Training, hosted by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and its Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council (PAYC), is held annually in March during the education break.

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 each year. Locations are rotated through Vancouver Island, lower mainland, the interior and the north.

GOV is guided by a Steering Committee who assist with setting the themes, selecting workshops, and inviting entertainment, keynote speakers and panelists. Having youth at the center of the leadership training, from its inception to the delivery of the event itself, creates an authentic and relevant experience for all in attendance.

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. These experiences directly benefit Indigenous youth in the following significant ways:

 

– Through cultural activities and ceremony, youth affirm and gain pride in their own unique cultural identities;

– Through educational and career training, youth gain skills and information to help them deal with challenges they face in their communities, build leadership capacity, and reduce barriers to their participation in the economy;

– Through holistic workshops on life skills and youth issues, youth learn how to lead healthier, safer, and more positive lifestyles;

– Through motivational speakers and positive young Indigenous role models, youth gain inspiration and hope for the future; and most importantly,

– Through the experience of coming together, Indigenous youth learn that they are not alone and that the problems faced by Indigenous communities can be overcome.

These experiences are empowering, educational and healing. By providing vital strategies to deal with issues faced by Indigenous youth; GOV saves lives.