Our Legacy Youth Conference looks to empower the younger generation

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald A Grand Entry kicked of the Our Legacy Youth Conference at Plaza 88 on Tuesday. The Conference concludes with a Gala on Thursday evening.

Students from across northern and central Saskatchewan were in Prince Albert on Tuesday to kick off the second annual Our Legacy Youth Conference at Plaza 88.

The conference runs until Thursday and is a way to celebrate youth.

Nicole Matheis the coordinator of Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF) and an organizer of the event explained that the mission of the second Conference was simple.

“We just really wanted to bring these (students) together in a way where we can celebrate youth in our community,” Matheis explained. “We have approximately 160 youth from Prince Albert and surrounding communities and northern communities and we’re able to bring them together in a good way.

“(It’s) just as a form of reconciliation, to create beautiful moments with youth at the workshops. They are able to create something and they’re going to be sharing that at the gala on Thursday night.”

The conference is held on Easter break making it possible for many youths to attend. The conference opened with a Grand Entry and prayers on Tuesday afternoon.

The conference is built around workshops on various interactive and creative subjects. The list includes the Virtual Reality Workshop with Lindsay Beochler, the Fashion and Design Workshop by diploma students at the Academy of Fashion Design, the Apparel and Design Workshop with Cody Demarais and Justin Naytowhow, the New Media Workshop with Justin Rain, the Dance Choreography Workshop with Magoo Crew, the Traditional Arts Workshop with Venn Morin and Misty Naytowhow and the Vision Board and Medicine Wheel Teachings Workshop with Beth Gobeil and Angelina Pelletier.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Elder Liz Settee said a prayer and made a speech to kick off the Our Legacy Youth Conference at Plaza 88 on Tuesday . The Conference concludes with a Gala on Thursday evening.

The workshops all lead to the gala on Thursday night, which includes showcases of all of the work done at the workshops,

“We just wanted to really create moments where youth can shine,” Matheis said. “We wanted opportunities where youth can create something that they made with their own hands and they can take it and show the community and show at the Gala and be proud of the work that they were able to create during these workshops.”

Keynote speakers Alex Powalinsky and Lisa Halsall on Tuesday, with Cody Demarais and Justin Rain set to speak on Wednesday. Both Tuesday and Wednesday events feature workshops and evening entertainment.

“We definitely are able to learn with our first annual (conference) and we’re so excited that we’re able to do a second annual,” Matheis said.

She added that the event is really about the community coming together,

“We have a Youth Working Group and all of our volunteers are a part of that Youth Working Group and they want to see the youth thrive in this community,” she explained. “We have different organizations, a part of that youth working group and they’re all here to see and support the youth as well.”

Shane Bird from Youth Services at the Prince Albert Indian and Metis Friendship Centre said the Conference is important to the Friendship Centre as well.

“The Friendship Centre is home to a lot of people,” he explained. “It’s a kinship value and we support the youth as much as we can. We want to empower the youth in a good way.”

Bird said 12 different communities from all around Northern Saskatchewan were represented.

“We capped our registration at 150, so we do have a waiting list and we also allowed a few actually to attend. Last year we had 330 in attendance, so we wanted to cap it at 150 this year” he said.

Another important aspect is the elders and knowledge keepers at the conference, which included Elder Liz Settee and others.

“They bring the knowledge to our youth and they ass it down orally,” Bird said. “It’s in our tradition when we gather that the elders are a huge part of this. You know that if any youth their staff or facilitators have questions our elders are right there to accommodate them.”

He added that all of the facilitators also helped out greatly with the conference as well.

He was happy to see the event come together.

“It took a few months leading up to this and we’re happy to bring this for our future generations because they hold the key for the next generation that comes and they want to make sure that we are teaching the right things and empowering the kids,” Bird said.

Matheis and Bird both thanked the sponsors including the Prince Albert Urban Indigenous Coalition, the Prince Albert Indian and Mighty Friendship Centre, Communities Building Youth Futures, the City of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and First Nations University.