Northern Youth Leadership Conference

Topics: Manitoba, Youth, Indigenous Communities
Jason Small | December 10, 2019

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Approximately 660 Grades 7-12 students from Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Educational Resource Centre (HBOIERC) in Norway House, Jack River Middle School in Norway House, and D.R. Hamilton School from Cross Lake, participated in the two-day youth conference held at HBOIERC in November.

The conference opened with a prayer and keynote address from elder Robert Apetagon, followed by a rap performance from student Brendon Anderson. He wanted to give hope to his fellow students and encourage them to avoid making bad life choices. The lyrics of his song, Rap for Hope, include the following lines:

I want to see you all graduate,
Nothing in your life is ever too late,
Please don’t make the mistakes I have made.


Day two of the conference opened with a keynote address from Sydney Bee, from EAGLE Urban Transition Centre, who shared the challenges and hardships he faced growing up, and how he was able to overcome those challenges to create a better life for himself and his family. During the two days, students participated in workshops that encouraged wellness, physical activity, creativity, emergency preparedness, cultural learnings and nurturing healthy relationships and safer communities. School staff led sessions with students both inside and outside of the classrooms.

This was the second Northern Youth Conference coordinated by the Red Cross in a Manitoba school in 2019. In May, a similar conference was held at the Opaskwayak Cree Nation with 200 students from the area.