LGBTQ2S+ youth from across the North Slave can look forward to canoe trips, campfires and movie nights this summer.
This will come as part of the Qmunity Camp NWT, the territory’s first LGBTQ2S+ overnight summer camp.
The camp is being run in partnership by the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife, an outreach organization which supports queer youth and allies, and NWT Creative Collective.
Qmunity Camp will be held from Aug. 21-25 at the Camp Connections site on the Ingraham Trail. All campers expenses are covered by sponsors.
Creating an inclusive environment with summer camp
Qmunity Camp founders Chelsea Thacker and Lindsay Debassige are also the camp directors for the summer.
Qmunity Camp is one of many LGBTQ2S+ summer camps across Canada, but the only one of its kind in the NWT.
“I took a look at the summer camps we have here, and they’re great. But they’re still pretty gendered and they’re not LGBTQ2S+ specific,” Thacker says.
Thacker approached Debassige with the idea about a year ago.
“I’ve never formally gone to any summer camps,” Thacker says with a laugh, “which was part of the challenge because I had an unrealistic, Hollywood view, on what summer camp was supposed to be.”
However, Debassige has a long history with camp and the pair lined up all the usual activities including canoeing, camp fires, games and arts and crafts.
We are so excited to announce a special project that we’ve been working closely on with our friends at the NWT Creative…
Thacker says LGBTQ2S+ camps are important for youth because it provides an opportunity for them to be children in a supportive environment.
“You have to be so much older than you are because you have to be aware of your rights,” Thacker says, “so my hope is that as we create inclusive communities we can slow that down and let kids be kids and have those experiences.”
The camp is also open to both youth who are questioning their sexuality and allies to the community — a group Thacker says is important to involve.
“Some people who aren’t comfortable about opening themselves will just take an allied role in the community until they’re ready,” Thacker says. “The closet door doesn’t have to be open for you to feel welcome in the community.”
Qmunity Camp is also running an affirmative action hiring policy and has Indigenous facilitators to run certain activities.
“We want to make sure the leaders also reflect the population,” Thacker says.
The plans to launch Qmunity Camp in summer 2020 were nearly derailed by COVID-19.
“We weren’t sure at all that we were going to get to hold the summer camp,” Thacker says.
But the Government of the Northwest Territories assured the pair it would be able to go ahead as planned.
Phase one of the NWT’s emerging wisely framework approved organized outdoor activities — including summer camps — to occur with disinfection and physical distancing processes in-place.
Registration is open until July 31 for youth aged 12 to 19 from Yellowknife, N’Dilo, Dettah and Behchoko.
Priority is given to youth who self-identify as multi-intersectional, such as Indigenous Two-Spirited.