The Traditional Leadership for Future Generations Conference was held in Antigonish in May, 2006 to educate youth about traditional leadership and to encourage positive thinking and goal achievement. There were both Elder and youth speakers–the Elders sharing their traditional knowledge while youth spoke of everything from traditional dancing to overcoming drugs and alcohol to achieve truly great things. Conference coordinators asked the Grand Council to recommend youth in its communities to attend the conference, and Annie Johnson from UINR was honoured to be among those chosen.

410While not all youth attending were picked by the Grand Council, the results were amazing. Annie explains: “A lot of native youth today get a lot of flack for being into drugs, alcohol, being disrespectful and misguided. Never before have I attended a youth conference with so many respectful young people. The vast majority of youth at the conference were polite, helpful, talkative, and respectful of not only the Elders, but also the speakers and ceremonies that took place over the weekend.

The drum group from Afton was impressive, with over a dozen drummers. The atmosphere of the conference was very comfortable, casual, without losing sight of what needed to be done. While the Grand Council always seemed to me an honourable, but intimidating, presence, it was a pleasure to be able to sit and have lunch with them. In fact, the first conversation I had with a Grand Council member there turned into a true ghost story–but that’s a whole other article for another time.”