Dreamcatcher conference celebrates 20 years
Adrian LaChance wants Aboriginal youth to know that it’s okay to be connected to their culture – to be a part of something so beautiful; so historical; so traditional. He feels youth need this reassurance – a reassurance he didn’t have growing up in James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan and one he feels might have prevented the life of addiction he fell into as a young man. “I never had a role model growing up,” explains Adrian. “I wanted to show youth that there is hope.”
New direction brings opportunity
A few years into his healing journey, a good friend asked him to help facilitate a session on dream hats at a new conference directed at Aboriginal youth. Hesitant about public speaking, but determined and excited for the opportunity to connect with young people, he overcame his fear of presenting. Once he saw the impact he could have, he was hooked.
That first dream hat session was 20 years ago, and Adrian’s been involved with that conference every year since. This year he will emcee MacEwan University’s Dreamcatcher Aboriginal Youth Conference on October 12 and 13.
Connecting Aboriginal youth from across Canada
Now a traditional dancer, drum keeper and cultural facilitator with the Edmonton Catholic School Board, Adrian believes the conference is a great place for youth from across Canada to come together to renew their spirits, connect with their identities and celebrate their cultures.
“Being involved in this type of activity can guide our youth to become dominant young leaders, and more productive as members of society,” he says.
The conference aims to do just that, bringing Aboriginal youth aged 13 and older together to explore educational and career opportunities while celebrating their culture and developing new friendships. This year approximately 1,000 youth, presenters and exhibitors are expected to attend, with groups coming from as far away as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Dream, Learn, Achieve
The conference slogan, “Dream, Learn, Achieve,” is the foundation of the event that features cultural activities and sessions addressing issues important to Aboriginal youth, such as education, empowerment, leadership, youth rights, careers and addictions. This year’s keynote speaker will be Time Magazine’s Hero of the Planet, Simon Jackson, who will speak about the power of one.
Although the conference has changed format and focus many times over the past 20 years, conference organizer Carolynn Kane feels it’s finally evolved into what it was meant to be. “It’s found its direction,” she says. She speaks from experience, having organized Dreamcatcher since 1999. She explains the conference focuses on the power of knowledge, and stresses the importance of education and learning as a means to realizing their dreams.
“Dreamcatcher is a place for kids to start dreaming, and it’s our hope that this conference will provide them with important tools that can assist them in achieving those dreams.”