By Angela Vermillion, CRNA CEO
The 2022 Elders & Youth Conference was held August 8th-10th at the Gulkana Community Hall. The conference had an average of over 85 participants per day. The theme of this year’s conference was “Always Be Prepared.” Elder and youth attendees participated in workshops that addressed mental, emotional, and physical preparedness for various aspects of life. These sessions included Healthy Relationships, Suicide Prevention, Narcan Use, CPR Practice, Swift Water Safety, Grief Management, and Vaping Prevention. The attendees also participated in group discussions, including one around Potlatch learning. Youth held a practice potlatch guided by commentary from Elders and other adults. Attendees were also split into two talking circles, one for men and one for women.
The groups discussed whatever topics were relevant to them (e.g. how to live a good life as an Ahtna person). The keynote speaker this year was Dr. Evan Adams (also known as Thomas from the movie Smoke Signals), who gave an address and additional workshop with youth about the importance of their individual stories (past, present, and future). The final afternoon of the conference, the Stand for Our Children video was premiered, followed by a discussion about community recovery, sign making, and the Sobriety Walk to the reclaimed land of Gulkana. This was a very powerful way to close out our time together. We’re incredibly grateful for the support provided by Ahtna, Inc., and we look forward to next year’s conference!