Inuvik

What a day of firsts! This is my first FOXY blog post, my first time Peer Leading the workshop and the first time I’ve ever been this far up North. Nancy, Candice, and I landed in Inuvik on a chilly afternoon, two hours after our expected arrival time. Lucky for us, we had our notes in our carry-ons, so we went over some of the major objectives of the workshop during the plane ride as a refresher. I met Nancy through my involvement with V-Day North, an organization of which she acted as chair for four years that works to eliminate violence against women. I was looking to become more involved, so we had lunch together. She described a project that combined my greatest loves: fine arts, social justice, and working with people. In short, my soul soon belonged to Nancy McNeill.

Meeting Candice was a different story. She had an eyebrow ring and was getting a PhD, which automatically gave her wicked street-cred. Basically, Candice is a super hero who improves young women’s lives, is becoming a doctor, and is a hardcore jock on the side. Together, we are armed with knowledge and totally dangerous.

We have some time before we have to be at the school, so Nancy and I run through the workshop together. I will be acting as a Peer Leader, and she will be the primary facilitator. Candice takes copious amounts of notes while we discuss the purpose of Peer Leaders. We decide to create a Peer Leader Handbook to accompany the Facilitator’s Handbook; it’s important that the project instructions remain consistent so the research is not impacted. It becomes my duty to outline the roles that Peer Leaders will play, but it is difficult to try noting any concrete answers because we have not focus tested with me on board yet.

Although the girls seem timid at first (who wouldn’t be a bit nervous around strangers?), it becomes quite clear they have a lot to say. After we play “The Birds and The Bees,” everyone gets a serious case of the giggles. It’s interesting to me that the girls can spell “gonorrhea”, but still feel a bit awkward talking about birth control.

The Foxes LOVE the costumes. We are certain that a mysterious article of clothing that appears to be a sparkly pink knitted tube is in fact a “Thneed” from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. We all laugh while putting on costumes, and Nancy makes fun of my “irresponsible and intoxicated male character dance.” Although it’s funny, the Foxes make some really perceptive remarks: “Why don’t her friends say something?” when the character is in a risky scenario. I’m really impressed by the girls and their bravery; it’s difficult to trust that others will accept who you are, but these Foxes are supporting one another through the whole process.

We have a group hug at the end of the session. It’s wonderful how close the girls seem to have become. Nancy, Candice, and I have a bit of a nostalgic moment on the plane ride home when we think about “Grandma Hanna,” and hope that the girls will use the tools we’ve helped them develop to make healthy sexual choices in accordance to their own values, someday passing those skills down to other young women in their lives.

And, finally, we come up with a name: F.O.X.Y.- Fostering Open Expression among Youth.

Who’s a FOXY lady?

Maks

— by Makenzie Zouboules, FOXY Peer Educator