Youth inspired by culture and community

By Leah Walberg, March 22, 2011

Photo by Marika Swan

Ucluelet — 

The West Coast Youth Conference, held March 12 at the Ucluelet Community Centre, was a great success! The event was hosted by the Z-Team Youth Council and it brought together approximately 100 youth from the communities in the Central Region on Vancouver Island, as well as from other Island communities.

The theme of the conference was on "modernizing culture" with the goal to inspire other youth to get involved positively in culture and communities.

Conference activities included: educational workshops, a community youth visioning process, a screening of the Digital Harvest Project (youth-created videos on traditional foods), a presentation on the Ahousaht youth cultural exchange in Ontario, and an evening dance.

Community engagement was a key message throughout the conference with participants sharing many ideas about what is important to them and how they could get involved in their communities.

The theme and goals of the youth conference were integral to what the Z-Team is all about.

The group was started last year by Hittasoo youth as a Sober Summer initiative with youth choosing to stay sober and to get involved in culture and community.

The group has since grown to about 15 youth primarily from Yuu-cluth-aht First Nation and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

The value of supporting youth-led initiatives (such as the Z-Team and the youth conference) is directly reflected in the results of a local youth survey and community services evaluation completed this past fall.

Of 166 Ucluelet Secondary School students, only 14 per cent of respondents felt they have a say in how their community is run. Students also identified "lack of activities/ boredom" and "drugs and alcohol" as the primary issues facing youth in the area, and that these issues are linked.

The youth survey and evaluation was conducted by the Coastal Family Resource Coalition and funded by the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust.

Many thanks to West Coast Youth Conference sponsors: The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and the West Coast Dual Literacy Program, as well as the District of Ucluelet, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, the District of Tofino, Digital Harvest, and Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose First Nation).

Many thanks must also be extended to the dedicated individuals who contributed greatly to this event, including elders, regional youth and community workers... and all the youth! 

The Coastal Family Resource Coalition is a network of government, First Nations, and non-profit organizations working together in support of children, youth, and families on the west coast.

Leah Walberg  is the Community Youth Facilitator for the Coastal Family Resource Coalition