Eight years after he attended the Dreamcatchers Aboriginal Youth Conference, Michael Ciboci was busy finishing some Chinese takeout to help fundraise for a new crop of youth to head to this year’s event.

Michael Ciboci, youth program coordinator at Ingamo Hall, works on some Chinese food as one of the last fundraisers for youth travelling to this weekend’s Dreamcatchers Aboriginal Youth Conference Edmonton.
Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

“Now I’m in the position where I’m able to fundraise with the youth to bring them and they can experience the conference,” said Ciboci, youth program coordinator at Ingamo Hall. “It’s a good experience to go down, interact with each other and make lifelong friends.”

He said it felt like a big deal at the time and created a strong communal spirit.

The conference, hosted at MacEwan University in Edmonton, centres on a theme of self-empowerment, with the slogan “Dream, Learn, Achieve.”

The idea behind the name is how dreamcatchers accept the good and ward off the bad in the lives of youth.

Ciboci said there are workshops, keynote speakers and a lot of opportunities for youth to engage in activities that will benefit their future.

“The majority of them wanted to do ‘words with an elder,’ where they go into the workshop with an elder and learn traditional values of smudge and how to make a drum,” said Ciboci.

Ingamo Hall is sponsoring five youth and two chaperones to go down, but the cost isn’t free. The overall bill will be around $16,000.

To pay that off, Ciboci and the youth have been busy fundraising, making pizzas, running merchandise bingos and more.

Savannah Elias-Beaulieu, one of the youth taking part, said she’s been helping with 50/50s, ticket draws, bake sales and take-out food events.

“I am excited to be going to Dreamcatchers, as it’s my first time going,” she said. “I am looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people from all over Canada.”

She’s heard a lot of good things about Dreamcatchers and is eager to try new things.

The conference is held Oct. 27 and 28 in Edmonton, but the youth are spending a few extra days down there to enjoy the trip.

Elias-Beaulieu thanked Ingamo Hall for giving the youth this opportunity.

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