Culture, Opportunity and Inspiration

We are honoured to host Gathering Our Voices National Aboriginal Youth Conference on the territory of Westbank First Nations.

From March 21 - 24, 2017 GOV will bring together more than 1000 Indigenous youth delegates as well as chaperones, presenters and guests to Kelowna, BC. Young people from all across Canada are invited to join us to explore, to learn and to engage with our culture among peers. This year’s conference is rooted in culture.

Youth, chaperones, presenters, exhibitors, Elders, volunteers and other guests will have the opportunity to make new connections, rekindle old bonds, engage their passions and discover a new drive. How can we improve the present? How can we create a brighter future for ourselves? Are we prepared to face the upcoming challenges?

Join us and learn from pillars of our community, hear their stories, their struggles, and their triumphs. Then, forge your own way by creating your own special blend of workshops, it is your choice what you learn, just as it is your future. Spend your evenings participating in our live Talent Showcase and dance party. Finally, reconnect to your roots during our cultural morning and closing ceremonies.

A Glimpse Of The Past

The BCAAFC has previously hosted fourteen Aboriginal Youth Conferences. Youth delegates and chaperones from all over the country travel at their own expense to attend these conferences. The purpose of these conferences is to unite youth throughout the country in learning, healing and sharing and to provide tangible tools, resources and knowledge that the youth can bring back to their communities.

The first two conferences hosted over 100 youth attendees, while the third saw attendance triple to over 460 youth delegates. The fourth and fifth conferences doubled attendance to over 800 youth. The 2008 Conference in Victoria had nearly 1000 people in attendance; the 2009 Conference in Kelowna had 1300 people attend; the 2010 Conference in Vancouver and the 2011 Conference in Prince Rupert, over 1500 people took part, in Nanaimo (2012) over 1600 people gathered together, in Penticton (2013) more than 2000 people participated, and Vancouver (2014) saw more than 2200 participants. In Prince George (2015) the conference reached capacity months before the event started. Last year in Victoria we reached 2000 registered delegates, even before early registration had closed. This overwhelming response serves to reinforce the need for a forum where Indigenous youth can come together to begin to make positive changes in their own lives and in their communities.


The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and their Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council

The BCAAFC is mandated to:

  • To promote the betterment of Aboriginal Friendship Centres in the Province of British Columbia.
  • To establish and maintain communications between Aboriginal Friendship Centres and other Provincial Associations and the National Association of Friendship Centres.
  • To act as a unifying body for Aboriginal Friendship Centres in BC.
  • To provide an Association for Government Agencies to communicate through and obtain information from. This, in no way takes away a centre’s right to negotiate directly with any agency.
  • To advise the Government, when requested by the collective centres, on how and what programs may assist Aboriginal Friendship Centres, in the development programs to better the lives of Indigenous people in British Columbia.
  • To administer program funding.

BCAAFC-PAYC strives to:

  • Represents youth voices at a provincial level
  • Act as a liaison between Friendship Centre youth councils, BCAAFC-PAYC, and the BCAAFC Board of Directors.
  • Implement province-wide initiatives to benefit Indigenous youth.
  • Provide a network of communication in which youth can learn about other Friendship Centres, both provincially and nationally, and the Friendship Centre Movement as a whole.
  • Encourage and support BC Friendship Centres to develop strong local youth councils.
  • Achieve equality of voice and inclusiveness while maintaining the fundamentals of being a youth!

Conference Co-Hosts: Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and Okanagan Nation Alliance Conference Partners: First Nations Health Authority, INAC, Province of BC Conference Sponsors: Vancity, Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council, New Relationship Trust Trades Workshops presented by BC Hydro