FOXY Retreat

               Applications for the 2020 Peer Leader Retreat have now closed. Applications for Summer 2021 will be available May 2021. 

IntroductionDownload Registration PackageSchedulePacking ListThings to KnowFAQ

The FOXY Peer Leader Retreats for young women take place over the July and August every year, and all young women between the ages of 13 to 17 years who live in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut are invited to apply!

There is no charge to anyone who participates in the FOXY Peer Leader Program.  All expenses for participants, including travel from their home communities to Yellowknife are covered through the generous support of the Arctic Inspiration Prize and our other sponsors.

Participants receive 2 high school credits for their active participation in the Retreat, and 2 additional credits for their completion of a Community Project when they return to home communities!

Participants at the FOXY Peer Leader Retreat will have the opportunity to learn about sexual health and healthy relationships through photography, music, theatre, digital story telling, and traditional beading.  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 and FOXY. The FOXY team will provide resources to assist with the planning, and will help connect the Peer Leader with supports when they return home.

                Applications for the 2020 Peer Leader Retreat have now closed. Applications for Summer 2021 will be available in May 2021. 

To those who applied for the 2020 Peer Leader Retreat, you will be receiving a message shortly from our staff regarding your application. 

Thank you to those who applied!


(subject to change):

Day 1

  • Participants arrive in Yellowknife from their home communities
  • Participants and facilitators spend the night at a team sleepover at the Yellowknife Ski Club

Day 2

  • Participants and facilitators leave for Blachford Lake Lodge at 9am via float planes
  • Participants arrive at Blachford, get settled, and eat lunch before doing an orientation and getting started on camp activities!

Day 3 – Day 7

  • Participants take part in art projects, outdoor activities, sexual health education and empowerment activities, enjoying wonderful hospitality from the Blachford Lake Lodge staff, and planning their Community Projects

Day 8

  • Participants spend the morning presenting their community project plans to the group
  • After lunch, everyone packs and gets ready to leave
  • Over supper, we give out our Camp Awards
  • At 7pm, we get onto the planes and return to Yellowknife
  • All participants and facilitators go to Yellowknife Ski Club for a team sleepover

Day 9

  • Participants all return to their home communities. We’ll miss you!

Blachford is a premiere lodge, but some activities will be outside and everything will take place in a rustic environment. Please do NOT bring anything that you will be upset about if it gets damaged/lost!

This is a suggested packing list, but remember that all of our accommodations will be shared, and you’ll be responsible for keeping track of all of your belongings. Most of what you need (such as bedding, pillows, and towels) will be provided while at Blachford.

Please pack light! Make sure that your baggage is within the weight limit of your flights to Blachford/Yellowknife (around 30lbs).


Even though it will be summertime, please remember that it can get chilly at night!

  • T-shirts – plus your FOXY t-shirts/hoodies if you already have them!
  • Jeans/outdoor-appropriate pants (yoga pants or other comfy pants are awesome!)
  • Light waterproof jacket (in case it rains)
  • Shorts
  • Sunhat/ball cap
  • Hoodie
  • Underwear & bras
  • Socks
  • Pyjamas
  • Bathing suit
  • Shoes
  • Sandals
  • Runners or light hiking shoes
  • Toiletries (eg. Shampoo/conditioner/soap, toothbrush & toothpaste, hair brush & comb, lip balm, glass (if needed), contacts/contact solution/case (if needed)
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera and battery charger (don’t worry if you don’t have one – FOXY has lots you can borrow!
  • Daypack/backpack
  • Water bottle (reusable and marked with your name!)
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • A book
  • Towel for swimming (shower towels will be provided)
  • Sleeping bag, pillow, and an optional small foamie or air mattress for the sleepovers in Yellowknife (these will get stored in Yellowknife when we go out to Blachford – so pack them separately from the rest of your gear!)
  • Any prescription medications in their original containers (this is to be given to the Retreat First Aider on the first day for safe keeping – she will give it back to you at the end!)

  • At Blachford, you will be sharing a room with at least one other person. If you have any concerns about this, or would like to make any special requests, please contact us in advance.
  • At the FOXY Peer Leader Retreat, smoking, drinking and drugs are not allowed. Please leave these items at home so they don’t jeopardize your chance to stay at the Retreat.
  • We will make all attempts to accommodate special medical, nutritional, and personal needs. Please be honest about your needs and we will work with you as much as possible to make sure that you have the best time at the Retreat!
  • During the two evenings we are spending in Yellowknife, all participants and facilitators must remain at Yellowknife Ski Club for the duration of the sleepovers as these are team-building activities that are central to the FOXY Peer Leader Retreat. There will be no exceptions made.
  • Please be honest and thorough with your health form. It allows us to prepare for all possibilities while at the Retreat.
  • During our time at Blachford Lake Lodge, participants will not be able to leave for any reason outside of an emergency. If a participant must be removed from the site for disciplinary reasons, the cost of the flight charter will be forwarded on to the participant’s family.
  • All successful participants in the FOXY Peer Leader Retreat will receive 2 Grade 10-level credits in the NWT school system. The Peer Leader Community Projects are worth 2 Grade 11-level credits if they’re completed!
  • FOXY strongly discourages you from bringing your phone or device to the Retreat – we don’t have cell service anyway, and the limited Internet is exclusively for the use of the Blachford Lake Lodge staff. If you are concerned about your device getting lost or damaged, please leave it at home. We’ll be super busy anyway doing fun things, and many participants in previous years found that they enjoyed being free from their electronic devices during the Retreat! Don’t worry if you don’t own a camera – we have a bunch of really awesome professional cameras that you will learn how to use and are free to pick up anytime to take photos of your Retreat fun (and we’ll make sure you get to take all your photos home with you)!

What is the Peer Leader Retreat?

The FOXY Peer Leader Retreat is an opportunity for young women from around the Northwest Territories 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 four years, we’ve been travelling around the NWT doing workshops with young women in junior high and high school, and this Retreat is the chance for them to get even more involved with FOXY. The Retreat will be a week of working with female artists from around the North on different types of creative self-expression, as well as the chance to each develop their own Community Project to address the needs they see within their own community and group of 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 founder Candice Lys, a PhD Candidate in Public Health from Fort Smith, and Lindsay Debassige, the Project Coordinator. FOXY has existed since March 2012 thanks to the support and funding of the the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Arctic Inspiration Prize, and our other amazing sponsors.

When is it?

This year we are holding our first Peer Leader Retreat from July 27 – August 4th, 2020 and our second FOXY Peer Leader Retreat August 12-20, 2020. On the first and last nights, we will be staying at The Yellowknife Ski Club so we can accommodate everybody’s travel schedules, and we will be spending the other six nights at Blachford Lake Lodge.

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 young women living in the Northwest Territories who are between the ages of 13 (on July 27, 2020) and 17 are encouraged to apply, but we currently only have spaces to take 25 participants for each Retreat. We will try to include as many people as we can, but if we have too many applicants, we will try to make sure that we have all of the regions of the Northwest Territories represented.

If I came to the Peer Leader Retreat last year, can I attend again in 2020?

Possibly! We have a couple spots reserved for returning Peer Leaders as Facilitator Apprentices, so we encourage you to submit a 2020 application if you want to join us again! Contact Candice at if you are a past participant, because we have a special application form for you.

Are boys invited too?

This Peer Leader Retreat is for young women and those who identify as female.  We’ve been doing workshops with young women for the last five years, and are excited to spend some more time with them talking about the issues that affect them and their friends.

The SMASH Peer Leader Retreat is for young men across the NWT!  Check out our SMASH webpage for more information!

What if I don’t identify as a girl or a boy, or if I am a trans person? Is there a place for me at FOXY/SMASH?
FOXY/SMASH aim to be inclusive of all sexual orientations and genders.  Transgender, Two-spirit, gender-queer, and all sexual and gender identities are welcome at our FOXY/SMASH programming.  Please call FOXY/SMASH Executive Director Candice at (867) 444-9108 or email her at if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to talk about your Retreat application.

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 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 FOXY 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, FOXY can include introspective activities that occasionally touch on some uncomfortable or awkward topics. While we try to ensure that all our FOXY activities occur in a safe space, free of judging and intolerance, we also encourage participants to come forward if they are feeling overwhelmed, scared, or upset. If they are triggered by any activity, 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 FOXY 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.