Category ArchiveMedia

Statement on Hyatt Regency Apology

Hyatt Regency Apology Letter – PDF

March 16, 2023

The BCAAFC welcomes the apology from the General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver hotel. While the Hyatt Regency’s immediate response was disappointing and deeply troubling, we are grateful that the hotel is now taking steps to address this incident as seriously as it should.

We honour the humility that the Hyatt Regency Vancouver has shown in its conclusion, and look forward to the engagement that will follow its proposed actions. BCAAFC is appreciative of the Hyatt Regency for reversing the charges incurred in our now-cancelled contract in regards to the 2023 Gathering Our Voices (GOV) Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event.

Gathering Our Voices will now be held at other venues, including the Fairmont Vancouver, Fairmont Waterfront, and Templeton Secondary. We deeply appreciate the many organizations that reached out offering their space.

Anti-Indigenous racism is an embedded feature of White-settler society that enables incidents of hate and violence against our people at a tragic rate. Our hope is that this incident sparks discussion on how others can improve Indigenous cultural safety within their own circles.

To our Indigenous community: thank you. Thank you for standing by our side in support of us and our beloved Cultural Advisor. We raise our hands in deep respect to the First Nations Leadership Council for its unwavering support, and its guidance through this hardship. To our allies and accomplices who are standing beside us demanding action and change, we humbly thank you and hold dear your support for drawing the line against anti-Indigenous racism.

Let’s call out all forms of discrimination when we see it. There is no tolerance for anti-Indigenous racism in 2023. Exposing discriminatory and anti-social behaviour helps in preventing needless violence against our people.


Media Contact:

Media Statement: Racism against Indigenous Cultural Leader by Hyatt Regency Vancouver Staff Prompts Call for Action

PDF of Statement

March 10, 2023 

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) are calling for swift action following the racist and disturbing mistreatment of a First Nations man who is a beloved Cultural Advisor and staff member of the BCAAFC by the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. We call on the Hyatt Regency to uphold the safety of Indigenous peoples, to provide mandatory anti-racism training for all staff, to demonstrate accountability for the harm they have caused, and to offer a public apology. 

From February 23-25 BCAAFC hosted a membership meeting at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver hotel for staff and youth from 25 BC Friendship Centres. After dinner on Friday, February 24, the respected Cultural Advisor and community member needed to use the restroom urgently. He sought the closest available restroom where the BCAAFC meetings had occurred over the previous two days in the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

He was refused access to the restroom by a Hyatt Regency employee, despite repeated pleas to use the toilet. After a fourth and urgent request to enter the restroom, the Hyatt Regency again barred access until the Cultural Advisor could no longer control their need to use the toilet, resulting in a public and humiliating incident. Nearby onlookers witnessed the incident take place. The Cultural Advisor recounts how the Hyatt Regency employee mocked them and smirked after noticing their wet clothing. The BCAAFC Cultural Advisor was extremely humiliated and traumatized.

The Hyatt Regency employee allowed the BCAAFC Cultural Advisor access to the washroom only after it was too late.

Furthermore, the response from Hyatt Regency management has failed to acknowledge this act of anti-Indigenous racism and harm, and the larger issue of systemic racism that so commonly targets Indigenous people.

After being initially dismissed by upper management, the Cultural Advisor received a brief apology that interpreted the incident as a “misunderstanding,” that the staff person was “only doing his job,” and offered a meagre breakfast voucher as compensation.  

The day after the incident, BCAAFC Executive Director Leslie Varley was denied the opportunity to speak with higher level management about this violation of a human right. After learning of the incident, BCAAFC staff pre-emptively concluded the meeting at the Hyatt Regency and withdrew from the hotel to safeguard our community from further violence and racism.  

The behaviour of the Hyatt Regency employee and response from management was abhorrent, unreasonable, and displayed a gross lack of respect for the dignity and well-being of the respected knowledge keeper. It must be made clear that the discriminatory refusal of a person’s basic needs was the result of systemic anti-Indigenous racism and is nothing short of a human rights violation. Corporations that profit from our community must be made aware that mistreatment and anti-Indigenous racism will be called out and investigated with immediacy.

We have significant concerns for the safety of Indigenous peoples at Hyatt Regency that must be addressed. Over the past eight months BCAAFC staff have planned the upcoming March 22-25 Gathering Our Voices (GOV): Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event to take place at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.  

We cannot, in good conscience, allow a gathering of 1,000 Indigenous youth take place at a venue where violence and racism have recently occurred and may occur again. BCAAFC is now actively seeking alternative locations for events previously scheduled at the Hyatt Regency.  

We call on the Hyatt Regency Vancouver to publicly apologize to BCAAFC staff and to all Indigenous peoples for enabling racist behaviour of their staff. We call on the Hyatt Regency Vancouver to take action to amend policy, procedures and practices to address Indigenous-specific racism including providing mandatory anti-racism training for staff, as outlined by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

To be clear, BCAAFC is not seeking a financial compensation. Further, BCAAFC does not want the Hyatt to address this as merely one employee’s action. We seek to ensure all staff are trained to understand their biases against Indigenous peoples and enact measures to ensure systemic racism is addressed throughout the Hyatt organization.

BCAAFC is seeking additional volunteers for the March 22-25 Gathering Our Voices (GOV): Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event to assist in keeping Indigenous youth safe.  

BCAAFC and the FNLC stand firmly with our relative and cultural leader who experienced profound harm and raise our hands to them for their courage and strength in coming forward in the pursuit of justice, to demand dignity and human rights for our future generations.

On behalf of the undersigned:  

Leslie Varley, Executive Director, BCAAFC  

Elijah Mack, President, BCAAFC  

Carole Camille, Board Member, BCAAFC

Cal Albright, Board Member, BCAAFC

Rosanna McGregor, Board Member

Fabian Alexis, Board Member, BCAAFC

Tami Omeasoo, Board Member, BCAAFC

Cyndi Stephens, Board Member, BCAAFC



Cheryl Casimer

Robert Phillips

Hugh Braker


Grand Chief Steward Phillip

Chief Don Tom

Chief Marilyn Slett


Regional Chief Terry Teegee

Media contact:

Apply to volunteer at GOV2023:

Path Forward Community Fund Projects Announced


Path Forward Community Fund Projects Announced

Round 2 Deadline for Applications: Monday, January 23 

We acknowledge the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples, the traditional keepers of this land, for allowing us to work, play, and reside on their traditional and unceded territory.

PDF Statement

Victoria, B.C. – January 19, 2023 – The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and The BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is pleased to announce the first round of projects funded through the Path Forward Community Fund.

The Fund sponsors Indigenous-led, anti-violence projects that expand safety planning capacity for communities. The objective of the Fund is to ensure self-determination of Indigenous communities in addressing Indigenous-specific systemic causes of gender-based violence.

“It is made clear through the applications received that there is a need for sustained Indigenous-specific anti-violence programs to address generations of colonial anti-Indigenous violence that continues today. We must enable and create safety for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ community,” said BCAAFC Executive Director Leslie Varley.

“Violence against women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people is far too common in our society. For too many years Indigenous women and girls have been targeted, with little consequences to perpetrators of violence, and while culturally safe services was minimal. We raise our hands in respect to the Indigenous applicants for their commitment towards creating safer spaces in their communities.” 

In April 2022, the BC Government announced that the BCAAFC will manage the $5.34-million Path Forward Community Fund. This is the first round of the Path Forward Community Fund, with a total of $2.75 million allocated to 20 organizations.

“The launch of the first round of projects for the Path Forward Community Fund is an exciting step forward in our work towards creating lasting reconciliation. The Fund will support Indigenous communities and organizations as they create and implement their own culturally safe solutions,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

“As this initiative moves forward to identify a second round of projects, we will continue to travel the path forward with our Indigenous partners, ensuring our work to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people is informed by survivors, family members and communities,” said Farnworth.

Round 2 of the Path Forward Community Fund is currently accepting applications. The deadline to submit an applications is Monday, January 23 at 11:59 p.m. Visit to apply.

Path Forward funding is open to Indigenous organizations, including First Nation communities, urban or off-reserve communities, Métis citizens, Inuit and 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities.

“The Path Forward Community Fund is a key opportunity for Indigenous-led organizations to make a tangible difference in their communities,” said BCAAFC Executive Director Leslie Varley. “We encourage all Indigenous organizations in B.C. to apply.”

For media inquiries, please contact:

David Murphy

BCAAFC Communications Coordinator

250-388-5522 x252


Path Forward Community Fund – Funded Projects:

Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness: “The Family Reunification Program for Indigenous Women Fleeing Violence Project” 

The project aims to provide healing and reunification of families directly affected by gender-based violence. The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness will use culturally appropriate healing and recovery practices and a decolonized harm reduction framework to help reduce/end homelessness among First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and non-status peoples across Vancouver Island. 

AWTXW Foundation: “The Stó:lō Women’s Group Project” 

The project aims to create safe spaces and safety planning to promote gatherings in a healing space, as well as promoting cultural teachings that are foundational to healing in Stó:lō communities. Creation of an accessible website for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people will give immediate information and external resources for any person fleeing or experiencing violence. 

Carrier Sekani Family Services: “Highway of Tears Safety Capacity Building, Toolkit Engagement and Pilot Networking Project” 

The project is a website-based series of group sessions that focuses on awareness and prevention of gender-based violence for family members of MMIWG from rural and remote Indigenous communities along the Highway of Tears. The project will also serve peoples who are living in urban areas throughout British Columbia. 

Dze Ḻ K’ant Friendship Centre: “All Clans Patrol” 

The All Clans Patrol project will create an emergency response team that will be expanded to the streets. Allowing Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people to feel safe while experiencing crisis after hours. The team will be trained in culturally safe approaches, self-defense, first-aid, mental health first-aid, and suicide prevention services. 

Hulitan Family and Community Services: 

1) Land Based Counselling Groups: Will provide land-based teachings and clinical healing to urban Indigenous youth who have been directly/in-directly affected by gender-based violence, 

2) Keeping us Well: Will provide an eight=eek program to parents and caretakers, providing information and resources to better help youth to manage counselling services. 

3) Behind Closed Doors: Will be a short culturally accurate movie to bring awareness to non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities about the effects of intergenerational trauma, gender-based violence and racism. 

Lake Babine Nation: “Caring for the Caregivers as Crisis Prevention and Response” 

The project will provide cultural safety training and supports for their community patrol program: Team Gooze. Team Gooze works closely with local RCMP and health services to heal and protect its community from increased industrial activity and transient workers, and by providing culturally responsive and wrap around care to those in need. Team Gooze responds to calls for emotional support, safety planning, crisis support, accompaniments to the police or health services, and cultural connection.  

Land Back Healing Society: “Land Back Healing Society Workshop Series” 

The project will facilitate a workshop cohort of 80 to 100 urban Indigenous community members in the greater Vancouver area to promote and teach cultural healing ways, and touch on known factors of intergenerational trauma and anxiety. The cohort goals are to promote self-sufficiency and healing within themselves, and others.  

Lii Michif Family Support Services: “Creating Michif Approaches to Kikkew keur (Healing Hearts) Responses to Métis Survivors of Gender-Based Violence” 

The project goal is to access a Métis-specific domestic violence community and agency educator. This educator will facilitate matriarchal circles with Elders and survivors to understand best practices to provide supports to Métis women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. 

Malahat Nation: “Malahat Nation Community Safety and Capacity Building Project” 

The project goal is to expand services offered on the Malahat Nation to Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people living outside of their community. Malahat Nation aims to accomplish this goal by: facilitating community events to gather feedback on the direct priorities needed in the Malahat Nation; develop crisis response plans to establish strong networking to support the delivery of therapeutic programming, counselling, and life coaching; and developing culturally safe response strategies with the local RCMP. 

Nawican Friendship Centre: “Next Steps” 

The Next Steps project will create two rooms for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people that are at risk of homelessness. By creating medium-barrier, culturally-safe temporary shelter, the project will ensure the immediate success of those fleeing domestic violence and other unsafe situations. 

North Cariboo Métis Association: “Healthy Relationships” 

The Healthy Relationships project will serve Métis men and women who are directly affected by intimate partner violence through facilitated workshops. 

Okanagan Nation Alliance: “Community Mobilization Project” 

The project will serve the Sylix people by strategically researching with community engagement, developing tools and resources, educating and information sharing, as well as community capacity building. This will aid community members in coping and preventing domestic violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.  

Squamish Nation: “Squamish Nation Integrated Public Safety Strategy-Crime Prevention/Safety Planning” 

The project will establish an integrated approach to public safety and crime prevention. By creating a holistic healing approach this will create impactful changes to the women, Elders, 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, and youth. 

Stó:lō Services Agency: “Qwí:qwelstóm Wellness Program” 

The project goal is to promote traditional healing in regards to relationships, and one’s self. By promoting healthy self-sufficiency, healing, and knowledge, communities will have immediate resources available for intimate partner violence, and other forms of abuse.  

Tears to Hope Foundation: 

Tears to Hope will facilitate multiple health and wellness workshops for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. By holding culturally safe and easily accessible workshops, this will give a new light to those experiencing hard times. 

Tl’azt’en Nation: “Supporting Victims of Intimate Partner Violence/Gender-Based Violence” 

The Supporting Victims of Intimate Partner Violence/Gender-Based Violence project goal is to uplift the health of the community by hiring a culturally safe clinical counsellor to assist in overseeing policy, procedures, laws, powers, and cultural connections. 

Tillicum Lelum Friendship Centre: “Life Givers Project” 

The Life Giver’s project will provide youth and young adults culturally safe learnings in a non-monolithic Indigenous worldview of balance and wellness. 

Vancouver Aboriginal Health Society: “Our Circle is Strong” 

The Our Circle is Strong project will hire a cultural support worker to oversee and guide Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people fleeing gender-based violence/intimate partner violence. The project will assist people navigating the health care system, filling out forms and making independent decisions.  

Waceya Métis Society: “Giving Voice” 

The Giving Voice project will facilitate 15 cultural workshops (such as beading and garment making, for example) that will provide a safe space to converse about gender-based violence in communities that affect all Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.  

Wachiay Friendship Centre: “Youth Against Violence” 

The project will create workshops for Indigenous youth and young adults such as intimate partner violence information and resources, cultural workshops, self-defense training, and understanding verbal exchanges and de-escalation techniques. 

BCAAFC Statement: Anti-Racism Data Legislation

May 2, 2022

We acknowledge the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples, the traditional keepers of this land, for allowing us to work, play, and reside on their traditional and unceded territory.

BCAAFC is happy to have been part of the process in informing the B.C. Anti-Racism Data Act. BCAAFC hosted engagement sessions where representatives from B.C. Friendship Centres shared concerns, frustrations, as well as appreciation associated with the data collection process. Our hope is that this legislation will operate in a way that compliments the important work Friendship Centres do and helps to establish a consistent way to gather data that provides a respectful, strengths-based understanding of Indigenous communities, so Friendship Centres can continue to be responsive in meaningful ways.

We look forward to continuing a conversation with the B.C. government in the implementation of this legislation.

Thank you to BC Friendship Centres who took part in the engagement sessions that informed this legislation. To read the BCAAFC Anti-Racism Data Legislation Friendship Centre Consultation report, visit:

BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
Media Contact: David Murphy

BCAAFC Statement: Path Forward Community Fund

April 11, 2022

We acknowledge the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples, the traditional keepers of this land, for allowing us to work, play, and reside on their traditional and unceded territory.

BCAAFC is excited to develop and administer the Path Forward Community Fund, part of B.C.’s plan to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people. BCAAFC will manage the $5.34-million fund to help Indigenous communities and organizations expand safety planning capacity. Eligible projects include support for hosting planning sessions, culturally appropriate safety training as well as healing and cultural supports.

“BC Friendship Centres play a critical and direct role at a grassroots level in eradicating pervasive, systemic violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people. It’s inspiring to work with safety advocates empowering their communities. We look forward to continuing this important work in investing in community resilience, self-determination and reconciliation,” said BCAAFC Executive Director Leslie Varley.

For more information on the release, visit:

BCAAFC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
Media Contact: David Murphy

BCAAFC Statement: UNDRIP implementation in B.C.

March 30, 2022

We acknowledge the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples, the traditional keepers of this land, for allowing us to work, play, and reside on their traditional and unceded territory.

BCAAFC is pleased to support the Action Plan of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. This government-wide initiative unanimously supported by all parties and focused on action will benefit all British Columbians. The Action plan is a clear step towards genuine implementation of human rights and equitable access to services for Indigenous people. BCAAFC looks forward to assisting the Province and Indigenous groups to end Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination, and to begin contributing to the social, cultural and economic well-being of Indigenous people.

“We hope this action plan will help to dismantle some of the colonial structures that have had devastating effects on our lives and cultures.” – Dr. Sharon McIvor, BCAAFC President.

For more information, visit:

Watch recording of today’s funding announcement:

BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
Media Contact: David Murphy

JOINT STATEMENT: Provincial Budget Marginalizes Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Peoples

For Immediate Release

February 24, 2022

Traditional and unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation (West Vancouver BC) and Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations, (Victoria, BC) – The Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) and BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) support the integral steps towards reconciliation found within BC Budget 2022. However, the budget falls short on priorities for both Indigenous women and urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing.

Approximately 85% of all Indigenous Peoples in B.C. live off-reserve in towns and cities and continue to be excluded from distinction-based funding. AHMA and BCAAFC call on the provincial government to expand their commitment to reconciliation by addressing the substandard living conditions and lack of social supports that Indigenous peoples endure throughout B.C.

Indigenous Women

BCAAFC is particularly concerned that Indigenous women have been the hardest hit financially due to the pandemic. “We see a large shortage of women in the workforce, especially trained childcare workers. Many Indigenous women have fallen out of the workforce because of inaccessible childcare, transportation, and the cost of working being only marginally more financially viable than staying home to look after family. It is disappointing that these issues are not addressed in this budget.” said Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

Furthermore, Indigenous women have experienced violence at a disproportionate level throughout the pandemic. It is of grave concern that no concrete measures within this budget ensure culturally safe and supportive services to address violence against Indigenous women.

Housing Priorities

“The budget lacks the specific means and measures needed to address the growing housing issues experienced by Indigenous people residing in rural, urban, and northern communities,” said Margaret Pfoh, Chief Executive Officer of AHMA. “AHMA released B.C.’s first ever provincial Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy and we’re calling on our government to support and implement our strategy to ensure all Indigenous peoples can access culturally safe and affordable housing.”

AHMA and BCAAFC call on the Government of British Columbia to work with Indigenous partners to better understand the lived reality of off-reserve populations in B.C. Only through meaningful engagement with Indigenous organizations and service providers can the social, economic, and Indigenous rights of urban and rural Indigenous peoples in British Columbia be claimed and protected in relation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous self-determination rights per the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous funding highlights from the 2022 BC Budget:

  • $57 million to increase the number of urgent and primary care centres throughout B.C.
  • $45 million to support the operations of up to 15 First Nations primary care centres.
  • $11 million to support the province’s Aboriginal Head Start program. (Providing culturally based childcare, early learning, and family bonding opportunities for Indigenous children).
  • $12 million over the next three years to support the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Act and a new Declaration Act Secretariat.
  • $44 million to create the Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship.
  • $4 million to expand the Indigenous Forest Bioeconomy Program to help participants commercialism and scale-up innovative forest-based products.
  • $185 million over the next three years to support First Nations and forestry workers adapting to old-growth logging deferrals


Media Contacts

AHMA Communications Manager, Laurie Brownrigg

BCAAFC Communications Officer, David Murphy

Doulas for Aboriginal Families Grant Program: Changes to doula eligibility requirements

News Release

April 1, 2020

More Indigenous birth workers will have access to the Doulas for Aboriginal Families Grant Program (DAFGP) under its new eligibility requirements. The program, delivered by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, provides Indigenous families living in BC up to $1,000.00 for doula support. Since 2013, the program has increased healthy birth outcomes for Indigenous families by removing the cost barrier to accessing doula services and bringing the birthing process closer to home.

The program’s previous doula eligibility requirements included certification through non-Indigenous oriented organizations, creating a barrier to accessing the program for many Indigenous birth workers. The new changes recognize that eligibility to the program must consider Indigenous peoples’ longstanding and enduring traditions of birth work.

These changes are already being celebrated by Indigenous service providers across BC. “The shift in requirements allows our Birth Keepers to be free of colonial restraints […] that otherwise impede the good work that has always been traditionally carried out”, shared the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Center Association (FRAFCA) Indigenous Birth Keeper Collective. “The [new] requirements give families greater opportunity to access culturally-safe, trauma-informed, traditional birth supports.”

Indigenous birth work positively influences Indigenous health, despite the disruption of Indigenous birth practices through policies such as residential schools and the biomedicalization of birth. Doulas can act as advocates for families and make positive contributions in situations where people are cited as high-risk, are without family supports, or are birthing away from their home communities. The program has also recently released a travel grant to support doulas for this purpose.

Indigenous families look to their own rich cultural traditions to inform their pregnancy-related experiences, and Indigenous doulas can facilitate incorporating traditional practices into the birthing process. As Indigenous doula care emerges as a best practice in Indigenous reproductive and maternal health care, assessment and response, the DAFGP is proud to increase access to Indigenous doula supports.

Visit for more information about the grant program.

For inquiries, please contact: Kassandra Woods at (250) 388-5522 ext. 252 or

“We have Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Medicine people, parents, youth, children, and babies that constitute our community. Everyone is invested in supporting our Life Givers through the birth transition in a good way. This is a traditional value.”

FRAFCA’s Indigenous Birth Keeper Collective is grounded in culture and works as a close-knit community of perinatal support to families.

Gathering Our Voices 2020 cancelled due to health concerns with COVID-19

Media Bulletin – British Columbia

March 12, 2020

It is with heavy hearts and careful consideration that we cancel this year’s Gathering Our Voices (GOV) event, which was scheduled to take place from March 16 to March 19 on Secwépemc traditional territory in Kamloops, B.C.

The decision to cancel GOV 2020 upholds the safety precautions recommended by provincial health authorities to best protect the health of the population with concerns around COVID-19.

GOV organizers have been in daily contact with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and Interior Health. In B.C. the presence of COVID-19 has increased from containment to community transmission. The World Health Organization assessed that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic on March 11. The ability to predict the virus and protect our community has changed; therefore, we feel that cancelling the event is the best call to protect our families and communities. 

Over the next ten days we will be in contact with all registered groups, vendors, presenters, etc. to start the process of refunds and contract cancellation. Due to the sheer volume of work with cancelling such a large event, we ask for everyone’s patience as we proceed during the coming days.

A lot goes into planning for GOV each year, from youth, chaperones, Elders, staff, partners, the host communities, and all the participants who come together to learn from Indigenous youth leaders, celebrate culture, share knowledge, and foster connection. We appreciate everyone’s time and energy and while we believe cancelling the event is in the best interest of our attendees and their networks, we are deeply saddened that this year’s event will not take place.

Thank you for your support of Gathering Our Voices and we look forward to welcoming you next year.

If you do not hear from our team within the next ten days, or you have additional questions, please contact:

For media inquiries, please contact: Leslie Varley at 250-893-0494 or


Source: World Health Organization media briefing – 11 March 2020

Gathering Our Voices 2020 and Health Concerns with COVID-19

Media Bulletin – British Columbia

March 9, 2020

Gathering Our Voices (GOV) 2020 is set to kick off on Monday, March 16, on Secwépemc traditional territory in Kamloops, B.C. We are excited to host over 1,000 Indigenous youth delegates for four days of cultural celebrations, leadership workshops, and social events.

Safety and health is always first and foremost in our thoughts while we plan Gathering Our Voices, and this year, amongst concerns of COVID-19, is no different. We have been in touch with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and Interior Health and we are doing everything in our power to ensure a safe and successful gathering.

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) has stated, “It is not necessary to cancel school events, outings or field trips to public locations in B.C. and Canada and to most places in the world.” There have been 27 confirmed cases in B.C., which has a population of over five million, and health authorities are working to track and contain these cases.

We will continue to monitor the on-going situation and let delegates and attendees know immediately if our concern increases or changes need to be made.

Each group registered for GOV will receive information on the health and safety protocols leading up to and on-site at the event. Thank you for your support in taking care of one another. We are looking forward to seeing everyone in Kamloops next week!

For more information on COVID-19:
· BC CDC Recommendation for Post Secondary Students/Faculty
· Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Information from CDC
· WHO myth busters – COVID-19

For more information on Gathering Our Voices:
· GOV website:
· Event updates:
· For general inquiries, contact or 250-388-5522 ext. 241