May 25-26, 2020

Allies 4 Youth

Formerly The High Risk Youth Conference



Our Conference

From May 25-26, 2020, the Allies 4 Youth Conference will bring together service providers, researchers, experts, and the youth to focus on the growing population of young people (12+) with increasingly complex needs. This conference will specifically focus on youth homelessness, indigenous youth & social justice, ethnocultural youth & trauma, and the voice of youth. We keep in mind that all youth, deserve the opportunity to lives their lives in a meaningful way, to feel safe, and experience a sense of inclusion and belonging.

This work with our youth incorporates the most recent research, literature and trends in areas such as trauma, attachment and brain development in children and youth; harm reduction; resilience; strength-based practice; collaborative, multi-disciplinary practice; trauma-informed intervention.


Keynote Speakers


Jane Kovarikova, PhD ABD

Child rights advocate, Jane Kovarikova, grew up in foster care since the age of six and began living on her own at age 16. Understanding the unique circumstances and challenges faced by youth-in-care inspired an ongoing academic and professional commitment to bettering youth outcomes…


Jay Dobyns

Jay Dobyns was a federal agent for twenty-seven years before retiring in 2014. He achieved worldwide notoriety as one of history's most daring undercover operators during high-octane missions targeting America's violent crime. Often playing the role of a shrewdly-calculating…


Jim Sporleder

Jim Sporleder retired in 2014 as Principal of Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA. Under Jim’s leadership, Lincoln High School became a “Trauma Informed” school, gaining national attention due to a dramatic drop in out of school suspensions, increased graduation rates and the number of…


Dr. Michael Marshall, MBBS, MRCPsych,  PGDip (Mental Health Law), CCT

Dr. Michael Marshall, MBBS, MRCPsych,  PGDip (Mental Health Law), CCT, is a psychiatrist with a special interest in transgender health - and in particular the mental wellbeing of gender diverse people.  He is the Program Director of the Gender Program at the University of Alberta Hospital…

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Senator Patti Laboucane-Benson

Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson is a Métis from Treaty 6 territory in Alberta. Her 30-year career has been dedicated to serving her community in Alberta, across Canada and around the world—as the director of a Boys and Girls Club in St. Paul in 1990, through 23 years of service at Native…



Changing the name from High-Risk Youth Conference to Allies for Youth Connections Conference.

In short, this is a shift away from the labelling of the term High-risk youth. While HRYC is well known and a descriptive name that references not only a specific event, but also a specific practice framework and philosophy with a sub-group of youth, it does not justify using a negative label that can follow youth into adulthood, and as parents. The A4YC Steering Committee feels that convenience to us as service providers does not justify a label that can have a negative impact on youth. We looked for a name that is consistent with a strength-based approach to working with youth and to foster an anti-oppressive mindset. While a lengthy, but worthwhile effort, we found a new name for our conference.