Forum brings aboriginal youth to Games 

Athletes, coaches and police aren't Sea to Sky's only guests during the Olympic Games.

Also along for the ride are 300 First Nations, Inuit and Metis youth as part of the Vancouver 2010 Indigenous Youth Gathering, a 16-day conference that aims to bring aboriginal leaders together to share their cultures through the Olympic Movement.

Participants in the conference will tour Olympic sport venues, watch athletes train and compete and meet sport heroes, leaders and aboriginal elders, according to a news release.

They'll also partake in cultural performances at the Four Host First Nations pavilion in Vancouver and 2010 Olympic Truce Youth Dialogue: Promoting Mutual Understanding, a series of discussions hosted by Governor General Michaelle Jean, who will attend the Olympic Games opening ceremonies on Feb. 12.

"This gathering is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be right in the centre of the action at the Games and play an important role in showcasing and sharing Aboriginal culture," Tewanee Joseph, executive director and CEO of the Four Host First Nations, said in a news release.

"The 2010 Winter Games mark a time of transformation for our people, where we focus on the positive aspects of our culture. These young people represent a great hope and a brighter future for Aboriginal people for years to come."

The gathering will run until Feb. 14. Participants are being housed in sites throughout Squamish's Paradise Valley region. They'll thus be treated to educational programs on forestry, wildlife, salmon habitats and a bald eagle sanctuary.

The Government of Canada and several provinces, along with BC Hydro, 2010 Legacies Now and the Aboriginal Youth Sport Legacy Fund, are funding the conference.




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