Indigenous youth gather at Edmonton university for milestone ‘Dreamcatcher’ conference

Edmonton police investigate a reported social media threat direct at MacEwan University, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Dave Carels, Global News

An annual Edmonton event that provides Indigenous youth with an opportunity to explore educational and career opportunities as well as celebrate their culture has reached a notable milestone.

MacEwan University’s Dreamcatcher Aboriginal Youth Conference is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend.

“Our main goal is to empower Indigenous youth and let them know that if they pursue further studies that MacEwan is the place where culture is honoured and celebrated — that they don’t have to leave their heritage behind when they move to the city,” Carolynn Kane, lead organizer, said.

About 500 Indigenous youth are expected to participate in the two-day conference. The keynote speakers include Zoey Roy who is an artist, activist and community-based educator.

“It’s important to have keynote speakers who can connect and understand Indigenous youth. We want them to be comfortable here and make sure all participants feel welcome. And we want them to know there’s a home for them at MacEwan,” Kane said.

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Cultural helper Adrian LaChance, who has been part of the conference since 1999, was the emcee this year. He calls the event a great journey.

“I think they learn not only language, some cultural stuff, but also some gifts about motivation and getting them connected and grounded to prepare them for the journey of whatever that is they’re going to be on,” LaChance said.

Since its inception, thousands of Indigenous youth from across Canada have participated in the conference.

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