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NEWS RELEASE · 13th March 2010
Min. of Aboriginal Relations
A thousand young Aboriginal people from across the province witnessed the signing today of a memorandum of understanding between B.C. and the Unified Aboriginal Youth Collective. This MOU will promote the expression of Aboriginal youth perspectives into government policy and program development on issues that matter to Aboriginal youth and communities.

Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation George Abbott and four representatives from the Unified Aboriginal Youth Collective signed the MOU at the annual Gathering Our Voices Provincial Aboriginal Youth Conference.

"This MOU recognizes the importance of listening to the Aboriginal youth voice when drafting provincial policy that is important to them," said Abbott. "These future leaders are creating a positive relationship with the Province of B.C. that will result in lasting benefits for Aboriginal communities and all British Columbians."

The MOU acknowledges the importance of aboriginal youth input, and recognizes that listening to the Aboriginal youth voice is part of the process of building a relationship between the province and Aboriginal people, which is based on respect, recognition and reconciliation. The MOU recognizes that the United Nations convention on the Rights of the child affirms the right of children and youth to express their views freely in all manners affecting them.

"By working together as an inclusive Aboriginal collective, we have achieved something very special," said Stephanie Albiston, Minister of Youth, Métis Nation BC. "With this agreement we are promoting and demonstrating a true Aboriginal youth voice while building a positive relationship with the Province based on respect; an agreement and a collective that I believe is the first of its kind."

"This MOU would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of many people," said Ken Watts, male youth representative of the BC Assembly of First Nations. "Past Unified Aboriginal Youth Collective youth leaders have laid the foundation for where we are at today. The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Aboriginal organizations, community leaders and Aboriginal youth from across the province have supported us from day one - to all of you I say a warm and heartfelt thank you. By working together, we are creating a brighter future for youth today, and for future generations of youth from all communities."

"Signing this MOU is a critical step to unify, formalize and move forward B.C.'s commitment, starting at the highest level, to build stronger relationships based on recognition of past injustice and respect for the diversity of our nations," said Jerilynn Webster, Executive Director, Knowledgeable Aboriginal Youth Association.

The Unified Aboriginal Youth Collective is a collective of Aboriginal youth representatives in B.C. - Aboriginal Youth Leadership Association, BC Assembly of First Nations, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres-Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council, Knowledgeable Aboriginal Youth Association and Métis Youth British Columbia-Métis Nation BC - whose purpose is to unify the diverse groups of Aboriginal youth in B.C. to establish a common voice. The Unified Aboriginal Youth Collective was established in 2006 and since its inception it has worked in partnership with the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.

A copy of the memorandum of understanding is available at www.gov.bc.ca/arr.