Applications are now OPEN for the first ever FOXY&SMASH Spring Retreat!


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The FOXY&SMASH Peer Leader Retreat for young people of all genders will be taking place this April 15-23rd, and all youth between the ages of 13 to 17 years who live in either the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or The Yukon are invited to apply!

There is no charge to anyone who participates in a Peer Leader Retreat.  All expenses for participants, including travel from their home communities to Yellowknife are covered through the generous support of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Department of Women and Gender Equity, Government of the Northwest Territories, and our other sponsors.

Participants at the Peer Leader Retreat will have the opportunity to learn about sexual and mental health, healthy relationships, self empowerment through art. No previous experience with the arts is necessary!

All participants will spend time during the Retreat planning a small Community Project that they will deliver when they return to their home communities with help from a mentor. The FOXY&SMASH team will provide resources to assist with the planning, and will help connect the Peer Leader with supports when they return home.

Applications are now open for the 2023 FOXY&SMASH Peer Leader Retreat!


  • Spring FOXY&SMASH Peer Leader Retreat April 15th-23rd
  • Summer Retreat dates and applications will be released in May

What is the Peer Leader Retreat?

The Peer Leader Retreat is an opportunity for youth from around the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon to come together and talk about the issues that affect them in their real lives – relationships, sexual health, friendships, and social issues. Over the last nearly 11 years, we’ve been travelling around the NWT doing workshops with youth, and this Retreat is an opportunity to further their knowledge and leadership. The Retreat will be a week of working with staff on different types of creative self-expression activities, as well as the development of their own Community Project to address the needs they see within their own community and peers.


Will I be camping? Will there be showers?

We will be staying at Blachford Lake Lodge, a premier lodge that is about a 20-minute float plane flight from Yellowknife. There are full bathrooms located in the lodge, with toilets, sinks, and showers. Some participants will get rooms in the main lodge, and some will be staying in cabins, but all of the accommodations are beautiful and very cozy – no tents or sleeping bags! However, you must bring a sleeping bag and pillow (to be packed separately) for the sleepovers we’ll be having in Yellowknife on the days before and after the Retreat.

Who is organizing the Retreat?

The FOXY (Fostering Open eXpression among Youth) Peer Leader Retreat is organized by the co-founder and Executive Director Dr. Candice Lys and the Director of Programs, Jennifer Butler.

When is it?

This year we are holding our joint FOXY&SMASH Retreat from April 15th-23rd. Our Summer Retreats dates and the applications will be released in May. 

Is there a cost to attend?

There is no cost to participants for attending the FOXY Peer Leader Retreat. All costs will be covered by our main funder, the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as the generous support of our other sponsors. We are happy to work with many awesome Northern airlines to ensure that we can fly folks from even the most remote communities to Yellowknife to attend the Retreat, and Blachford Lake Lodge, to offer our Retreat in a world-class location.

What is the selection criteria?

All youth living in either the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or The Yukon who are between the ages of 13 and 17 (on April 15th, 2023) are encouraged to apply. Applying does not guarantee acceptance as we have limited spots available.

If I came to the Peer Leader Retreat before, can I attend again?

Possibly! We have a couple spots reserved for returning Peer Leaders as Peer Apprentices, so we encourage you to submit an application if you want to join us again!

How do I apply?

Please complete an application (available for download on our website!) or by emailing or calling Candice at 867-444-9108.

What is the FOXY team doing to ensure the participants’ physical and emotional safety while at the Retreat?

The FOXY&SMASH team takes safety very seriously and knows that scraped knees and broken bones aren’t the only ways someone can get hurt. We are very fortunate to have a registered nurse on site during the Retreat who is available to provide first aid in the case of an emergency. In addition, several of our facilitators are trained in CPR and Wilderness First Aid, and Blachford Lake Lodge staff are also trained in Wilderness First Aid. All participants and facilitators will take part in Blachford Lake Lodge’s full orientation and safety briefing upon arrival at the Lodge. There will be an adult facilitator staying in each cabin, so participants will have adult supervision at all times.

Regarding participants’ emotional safety, the Retreat can include introspective activities that occasionally touch on some uncomfortable or awkward topics. While we try to ensure that all our activities occur in a safer space, free of judging and intolerance, we also encourage participants to come forward if they are feeling overwhelmed, scared, or upset. If an activity upsets a participant, they are encouraged to excuse themselves, either for a moment to take a break or for the remainder of the activity. A professionally trained mental health worker will attend the Retreat to be on hand for the participants, and several staff members are trained in mental health first aid and crisis intervention.

If you have any concerns about a potential participant’s well-being, please contact us to discuss them.