Conference call
Aboriginal Youth Conference in Old Fort Rae to raise awareness of youth issues

Darren Campbell
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 07/98) - Fraser Lennie is a busy boy these days.

The 15-year-old Yellowknifer is organizing the first Aboriginal Youth Conference set for Fort Rae on Aug. 10-12.

Lennie has been planning the conference for the past two months. A member of the Aboriginal Peer Educators for Youth group, Lennie said the idea for the conference came from them.

"We thought we would start something for aboriginals," said Lennie.

The conference, which will bring together 20-30 young people between the ages of 13-25, will focus on issues that matter to them.

"We just hope to bring a lot of awareness on youth issues like drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy, and the importance of education," said Lennie.

To help the young people become aware of these issues, guest speakers have been invited to the conference, including Yellowknife mayor Dave Lovell and Yellowknife North MLA Roy Erasmus. After a group discussion on their topics, the speakers will then answer any questions the group has.

Lovell said he will talk about the opportunities for young people in Yellowknife and show them the city is a place where they have a future.

"It's not Newfoundland. You don't have to leave here for a future," said Lovell. "There is stuff out there for them."

Lennie said initially he had a tough time getting young aboriginal people interested in coming to the conference. But after advertising it, the interest picked up. Now he just hopes the conference goes on without a hitch.

He also hopes to make this conference an annual event that will focus more on aboriginal culture next time around.

"We hope to teach aboriginal culture and where we come from," said Lennie.