In 1998, Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE) began to surface out of Yukon’s need to have a organization with youth ideas, plans, and initiatives at its core. Supported by the PAYY Coalition (Positive Action with Yukon Youth), a group of energetic youth decided to put together the first Yukon Youth Conference. It was a major success. The group reassembled later in the spring to form BYTE to plan for more conferences and to publish copies of Toxic Blend, a ‘zine made by and for Yukon youth. Since day one, BYTE has been an organization that is driven by and for youth in the North and one that celebrates their talents!
After several years of organizing successful Yukon Youth Conferences, we started to turn our attention to youth who weren’t making it to Whitehorse for the conference and in 2007 Community Tours were born! Community tours still make up the most important part of what we do today: bringing relevant programming to youth in their communities and truly meeting them where they are at! To do this, we regularly poll Yukon youth on what issues they face, want to learn more about and take action on. Then we create programming surrounding these outcomes.We regularly poll Yukon youth on what issues they face, want to learn more about and take action on. Then we create programming surrounding these outcomes.
In recent years, the BYTE staff team has created experiential workshops ranging from safer partying to healthy relationships, we have recruited and trained an on-call youth facilitation team to deliver the workshops in schools and rural youth centres in the Yukon, Northern B.C. and the Northwest Territories and we are always looking to add new, exciting workshops to our roster!
In 2014, we made another big change and we changed our name from Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE) to BYTE – Empowering Youth Society! The change not only reflects some of the new things the organization was doing but also honours that the young people who make up this organization and the young people we work with don’t need to be brought anywhere – we are already where we need to be! At BYTE – Empowering Youth Society we aim to give youth space for their ideas, passions and to practice the skills and strengths they already have.
Lastly, as we come up on celebrating 20 years of BYTE, we want to recognize all the energetic, enthusiastic youth who have shaped and directed the organization. We have been lucky to have so many talented and passionate individuals work here. Each staff offers a new set of skills which allows us to reach out and connect with a larger number of Yukon youth. Each staff has also brought new and exciting projects and workshops to our organization such as MOVE!, Leaders in Training and This is Our Arctic. We can’t to see what the next 20 years bring!