French-speaking youth from Nunavut, NWT and Yukon converged in Whitehorse on the weekend to fight isolation and talk about meaningful change.
This is the fourth annual Jeunes Franco-Nord conference in the North. It’s organized by l’Association franco-yukonnaise.
“The main goal is to break the linguistic and geographic loneliness because they’re French or English-speaking French in the North,” said organizer and Association franco-yukonnaise youth project manager Charles Laberge.
“It’s special being from the North. It’s very different from being from the South.”
Northern teens have fewer chances to meet than their southern counterparts.
The yearly conference aims to foster long-term friendships that span Canada’s North.
“We are not a lot of people and we are far from the big centres,” added Laberge.
“Also, being French, we are mostly a minority. So they know they’re not alone.”
Coinciding with Earth Day, April 22, the theme for the four-day conference is the environment and sustainable development.
The group took an archeological hike near Fish Lake, visited Kluane National Park and toured Raven Recycling.
“Iqualuit and Yellowknife don’t have recycling centres,” said Laberge in an interview at a local coffee shop.
He said he hopes the youth will turn their experiences into action.
“We’re trying to encourage them to be actors of change in their communities afterwards,” he said.
The Yukon event is part of a national program, called French for the Future.
While a national satellite broadcast will link most events Tuesday morning, Whitehorse was cut out of the loop.
The national organization “didn’t have enough money,” said Laberge.
Because of equipment failure, the nation-wide broadcast failed during last year’s conference in Iqaluit, he added.