Voices of Our Youth conference returned virtually on Thursday

Cody Demerais gives the keynote address during the Voices of our Youth conference, streamed online Thursday. /Screen capture

The Voices of our Youth – Weyawaw Oki Osakayak Pekiskwiwina conference returned virtually on Thursday. The conference featured Lieutenant Governor Russell Mirasty, Elder Liz Settee

Keynote speakers were entrepreneur Cody Demerais and Johnny Caissie.

According to co-chair Kevin Mugford, the conference was a chance for youth and adult learners to hear about positive ways forward for youth in Saskatchewan.

“We are doing it to give a voice to youth so they can speak to adults and let adults know what they feel has been successful and we are also doing it for the adult learner, the adults that work in the field in education and corrections and social work to realize that much of what they do is having positive success for youth,” Mugford, who is a co-chair with Tricia Lucyshyn, explained.

“Our focus is to give the youth a voice so they can share their success and why they believe they have been successful. But equally our focus is for those people that want to work in the field supporting youth, for those people to realize that they are having tremendous impact,” he added.

The conference was, in essence, for all sides of the equation around youth.

“I almost think we misnamed it a youth conference because it sends a message that the conference is for youth. So the actual initial focus was for the adults that are supporting youth to realize that they are having a tremendous positive impact.”

According to Mugford there were close to 200 individuals registered including from Prince Albert, from northern Saskatchewan, southern Saskatchewan and from the University of Toronto.

“By going virtual we have been able to expose ourselves to a broader base of registrants and then we are hoping that our message will continue to broaden by our registrants passing it on to others,” he explained.

The organizing committee included social workers, teachers, lawyers, law enforcement and representatives from a few service clubs and non-profit organizations.

The conference was virtually supported by Big Drum Media.

He added that high school teachers also signed in from their classrooms.

The idea came from a similar conference hosted by the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth over two years ago,

“It was Prince Albert people that attended that conference and said we have to do the same in Prince Albert. So this was initiated through a conference hosted by the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth,” Mugford said.

There will also be access available to the conferences speeches after the conference concluded.

“We will be able to expose people to this for the high school teachers that want to utilize some of the presenters in the fall or in the future,” Mugford said.

The conference is held in conjunction with the Heart of Youth Community Powwow which takes place virtually on Friday morning.

The late Victor Thunderchild served as cultural advisor for the group.

-with files from Jason Kerr