The BC Association of Funding Centres will expand access to education and training opportunities for Indigenous youth after receiving a provincial grant totaling more than $10 million.
Minister of social development and poverty reduction Sheila Malcolmson says the money will go a long way to support more than 500 Indigenous youth, through the Gathering Our Voices initiative, across the province in many different capacities.
“The initiative helps Indigenous youth build their leadership skills and encourages them to dream big,” she says. “We’re funding indigenous youth leadership gatherings for cultural celebration, career exploration and connection.”
Gathering Our Voices focuses youth from several First Nations communities including Metis, Inuit, urban and off-reserve communities to support expansion of education and training workshops, and the exhibitors’ hall to include more employment and academic opportunities for attendees.
BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres president Elijah Mack says opportunities like this go a long way to helping indigenous members feel they have the same opportunities.
“Gathering Our Voices is where I myself identified my dreams and set my goals when I was a teenager,” he says. “The opportunity to declare my goals and ambitions to my peers helped me feel like anything was possible.
“This funding will help us make sure thousands more Indigenous kids have that same opportunity.”
Gathering Our Voices is held each year to provide a safe, and inclusive, environment for Indigenous youth where they can be free from the impacts of racism, exclusion and poverty.
This year’s event is scheduled for March 22-25 in Vancouver.