In November 2000, The Ministry of Children's Services sponsored an Aboriginal youth forum, one of seven youth forums designed to give youth across Alberta the opportunity to influence the direction of service planning. Your Choice Your Voice targeted Aboriginal youth aged 13 to 21.
Aboriginal youth need a voice, they need to feel valued and they need to feel empowered. This initiative followed the 1999 First Circle/Uniting for Children-Children's Forum, where 140 Aboriginal youth participants shared their ideas with community members, policy makers and other adults. Major recommendations regarding the involvement of youth were made and documented in the Children's Forum Report, which was released in February 2000. Your Choice Your Voice was mandated to begin to satisfy these recommendations.
Your Choice Your Voice also responded to recommendations coming out of the National Aboriginal Youth Strategy, which called for the support of real opportunities for Aboriginal youth to become involved in the political development of their communities and government and to increase the involvement of youth in the design, delivery and evaluation of programs and services. The National Aboriginal Youth Strategy also called for forums and conferences to increase awareness of Aboriginal youth issues and the involvement of the Aboriginal community. Your Choice Your Voice was the start to satisfying these requests.
Throughout the day, Aboriginal youth participated in a series of working groups. These working groups focused on the ten above mentioned issue areas. The task was to raise awareness of the issue and then move into Action Planning and Project Development.