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First Alaskans Institute’s Elders and Youth conference to be held virtually this year

Liz Medicine Crow speaks to Elders and Youth Conference participants during the first day of the 2016 conference at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

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The Elders and Youth Conference that precedes the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention will be held virtually this October, amid concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, organized by First Alaskans Institute, joins several hundred Native elders and youth from villages statewide. It will be safer if held online and will increase access, the institute said in a prepared statement.

The multi-day conference consists of dozens of workshops and events, with older Alaskans educating youth on traditional values, languages and activities.

“In this virtual space, for each event, we will work to center the knowledge, wisdom, curiosity, beauty, creative talent, innovation, and brilliance of our peoples,” the institute said.

The conference helps launch the larger Alaska Federation of Natives convention.

Jeffry Silverman, a spokesman with AFN, said the organization’s board will meet in August to consider holding a virtual convention.

AFN said in June it will meet with health professionals and other officials to help with planning.

The convention typically attracts more than 5,000 Alaskans, and originally had been scheduled to take place at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage.

The convention is scheduled to run Oct. 15-17, with Alaska House Speaker Bryce Edgmon as the keynote speaker.

The theme, “Good Government, Alaskans Decide,” will focus on opportunities and challenges in Alaska, including the pandemic and resulting economic downturn, AFN said.

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