Over the past two years I helped the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres host Gathering Our Voices, the largest annual Youth Conference in BC.

This year, I helped out again! I also teamed up with Science Venture again to host 4 workshops!

Saturday: Travel

Unlike the last two years, we flew, and much of our supplies were shipped up weeks beforehand. Our flight went smoothly despite some high winds while headed towards Prince George.

Our Plane
Our Plane

Here's my favorite photo from the flight:

Some Gorgeous Mountains
Some Gorgeous Mountains

Sunday: Preparation

We worked with some of our awesome volunteers to put together some things that will be distributed to our delegates. As part of the process we got to check out the Prince George Native Friendship Centre, the largest Friendship Centre in Canada.

PGNFC
PGNFC
Assembly
Assembly

In total, we made over 1100 of these bags.

Done
Done

We also had our first Volunteer Orientation about the conference.

Monday: BCAAFC Team Arrives

We had a super busy day today! To start the day, we went to the Civic Centre and unloaded most of our supplies (the bags pictured above included), we had the help of our great volunteers and finished well over an hour ahead of schedule!

In the afternoon the rest of the BCAAFC staff arrived. After giving them time to settle we all met at the Civic Centre and had a run through of the next few days. In particular, welcome day, since the first time delegates meet you sets the tone for the whole conference.

Team Run-through
Team Run-through

After, we took a driving tour of all of our venues. In this process we realized some of our maps were a bit less useful than we hoped. We spent some of the night fixing them.

The week before the conference UNBC, one of our major venues, went on strike. We had to find 5 new venues and integrate them in the last days before the conference. This was no small effort by all of the GOV team!

Map
Map

To end the night, we gathered at the PGNFC for a special pre-GOV feast where we enjoyed a performance by their youth drum group!

Drumming
Drumming

Tuesday: Welcome & Opening Ceremonies

Possibly the biggest benefit of the online system we developed was that groups could register entirely online. This is a stark contrast to pre-2013 when Registration Day was a very long day. Now, in 2015, it's a day of greeting, welcome, and organization. After all, by the end of the day the Opening Ceremonies would occur, and all these seats would be filled:

Civic Centre... Empty
Civic Centre... Empty

Even with a stable, well thought out plan for welcome it can take some work to hit the ground running. We were ready.

Della on the Phone
Della on the Phone

I spent most of the day working with delegates who wished to select more or new workshops. Delegates were, of course, able to modify their schedules over the course of the day on their own via mobiles or computers.

Registration System
Registration System

It was great to see faces both old and new. Many delegates and volunteers come to Gathering Our Voices every year.

Listening
Listening
Shaking hands
Shaking hands

I enjoyed the Opening Ceremonies from the production crew booth and worked with the Audio-Visual team to coordate our portion of the event. Prior to the conference I worked with them to prepare all the necessary media and acquire it from partners. We had a great turn out, it was packed!

Turn out
Turn out
Stage
Stage

Wednesday: Workshops & Talent Show

During the first day of workshops I worked as a venue lead, taking care of one of our new venues and making sure things went smoothly.

That evening we hosted a Social Enterprise Event and the Talent Show! The Talent show is always one of my favorite parts of Gathering Our Voices. I spent the evening working with the two A/V Professionals on queues, media management, and coordination.

Dancers
Dancers
DJ
DJ

Thursday: Workshops

During the day on Thursday I worked with Science Venture to deliver four workshops. First up, we delivered two instances of a Medical Science Workshop.

Medical Science
Medical Science

In the afternoon we delivered a robotics workshop with Lego Mindstorms. As always, robotics are a bit rocky sometimes, there are far too many pieces that can go missing, or bugs that can happen! We also explored Makey-Makeys and Quadcopters!

Robotics
Robotics

Thursday: Dance

That evening, the conference hosted our dance! This year we had DJ O Show spinning music! Everyone seemed to have a great time. I even had time to do a coffee run!

Coffee
Coffee
Spinning
Spinning

Gathering Our Voices is always a mixing pot of social movements and ideas. It's a great eye opener and one always seems to aquire new inspiration.

Crowd
Crowd
Dancing
Dancing

Friday: Closing Ceremonies & Wrap Up

The Cultural Morning and Closing Ceremonies started early the next morning, and the crowd drifted in as the morning progressed. The Cultural Morning was host to a number of amazing performances. Perhaps my favorite was the Running Wolves Drum Group of the Victoria native Friendship Centre.

Running Wolves
Running Wolves

Over the course of the conference some of the participants worked with the Unified Aboriginal Youth Collective to carve a gift for the host Friendship Centre. The protocol and ceremony around the gift were powerful in their own right.

Totem
Totem

After the closing of the ceremonies we held our annual Great Sports Give-Away! The closing of the conference is always a moment of great euphoria for me. It means we did it. Mission success, as the lead coordinator, Della, so aptly expressed:

Success
Success

Saturday: Going Home

The trip home was a bit chaotic because the flights got changed due to mechanical failure. Some of the team did not make it home on Saturday, they made it home the following day.

Thanks to everyone who had a part of making this event happen!

Thanks
Thanks

Images used with permission. Images are copyright BCAAFC and Gathering Our Voices. Most images captured by Geoff Howe, others by Ana Hobden. Distributing these images or claiming them as your own may have legal rammifications, be considerate of privacy.