News / Edmonton

New Indigenous Youth Conference launches in Edmonton

Organizers say the new event targets student leaders from the inner city who don’t always have access to these types of events.

Naim Cardinal is the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Liaison at Centre High and is co-organizing a new leadership conference for inner-city youth.

KEVIN TUONG/For Metro

Naim Cardinal is the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Liaison at Centre High and is co-organizing a new leadership conference for inner-city youth.

A new leadership conference for students from Edmonton’s inner city hopes to bring in students who are often left out.

Event co-organizer Dan Scratch, a social studies teacher at Inner City High School, speaks of the intelligence and resiliency of his students, but says they’re often don't get these types of opportunities, which is why he's co-hosting one on May 11.

“We’re often disconnected from what the major schools are doing so we wanted to create an event that was solely for inner-city youth,” Scratch said.

He partnered with Naim Cardinal, the First Nations, Metís and Inuit liaison worker at Centre High, to create the Indigenous Youth Conference, which they hope will become an annual event.

Cardinal says the one-day event will focus on indigenous style leadership, but is open to 50 student leaders of any background from Centre High, Inner City High School, Boyle Street Education Centre and amiskwaciy academy, among others.

“We follow indigenous ways of knowing when we run many our programs [at Centre High] and that approach isn’t always taken when having these kind of events,” Cardinal said.

“Having people on site who have different ways of knowing is really important for students to learn.”

To that end, the Conference already has a full line up of speakers, including writer and artist Aaron Paquette and Charlene Bearhead, education lead at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Cardinal said he hopes that the event helps students come away with a positive self-identity, but also some leadership skills they can take back to school and into their careers.

Scratch adds that since many of the students are dealing with hard times or even homelessness this event is especially important.

“We really want to build a sense of community, and stress that they’re important people and getting involved and being leaders is an important thing for youth to do.”

Cardinal and Scratch currently have a gofundme campaign to raise $2,500 for the remaining costs of logistics and programming for the conference.