Gathering Our Voices
The Gathering Our Voices (GOV) Indigenous Youth Leadership Training, hosted by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and its Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council (PAYC), is held annually in March during the education break. This event has brought Indigenous youth from all over BC and beyond to connect, learn, share knowledge, grow, and have fun since 1999.
The GOV team came to us and wanted a registration system. It was envisioned to help the GOV team manage the event. Components included youth registration, leaders managing their youth teams, facilitators and workshops, exhibitors for the career fair, as well as volunteer coordination and a talent show event. Previously, each member of the GOV team was managing separate Excel sheets, databases and lists. We knew that creating a unified system could reduce duplications, omissions, and overall workload.
The registration and management system was a large endeavor, needing to cover the registration for the event, the day-of registration check-in, all the workshops, waitlists, volunteers, exhibitors, workshop facilitators, entertainment, staff administration, and after-event reporting. We included other features such as an event-day view to navigate the system easily during the event, attendance list printable forms for facilitators, bus and location integrations, and a VIP ticket module.
For this, we custom built a system which could handle all of this, including automating many of the manual tasks the GOV team was doing. Participants would register themselves, apply for specific workshops and schedules themselves, and have access to all the information a participant would need. This would free up a lot of their time to be able to focus on other important things.
The GOV team used to do registration through the phone, which resulted in a scramble the day of registration. In putting the registration online and automated, the GOV team didn’t need to be taking information over the phone but could now respond to specific prospective attendees.
In doing this, GOV sold out in 14 minutes and 28 seconds in 2019, three and a half minutes in 2020, and four and a half minutes in 2023. What used to be a long process over the phone is now done in a few minutes in the system, completely automated. In total, over 451 groups including 3,187 attendees have registered through GOV. In addition, we’ve seen waitlists each year over 400, even surpassing 700. This shows a clear need for this kind of gathering, and the importance and excitement from youth about GOV.
Beyond the system and site, we volunteered at GOV, ran the registration desk at the event, and continued to volunteer with the youth and behind the scenes at the event. Our whole team volunteered for the week, and had a blast watching the youth grow and participate in the life changing gathering.
Our partnership with GOV continues today as we still make changes to the site and system, and as their team explores ways to engage more with youth in an ever-changing digital environment.