SMASH Retreat

Applications are now CLOSED for the 2022 SMASH Peer Leader Retreat! Please check in May 2023 for the 2023 SMASH Peer Leader Retreat Application

2022 SMASH Peer Leader Retreat July 5-13, 2022

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SMASH Peer Leader Retreat

The SMASH Peer Leader Retreat for young men and male-identifying youth* will takes place every July, and young men and gender diverse youth between the ages of 13 to 17 years who live in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut are invited to apply!  *Please note that youth of all gender identities are welcome at our FOXY/SMASH Retreats, and we encourage you to contact the Amanda Kanbari, Director of Programs, to discuss your individual needs if you are gender-diverse or non-binary.

There is no charge to anyone who participates in the SMASH 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.

Youth at the SMASH Peer Leader Retreat will have the opportunity to learn traditional Northern games, create Northern games kits of their own, produce digital stories and participate in drum circles and several fun, outdoor, physical activities while learning about their own strengths and defining their own masculinity.

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!

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 SMASH. The SMASH team will provide resources to assist with the planning, and will help connect the Peer Leader with supports when they return home.

A person is considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the final dose of a Government of Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine (that is, two doses if it has been less than six months since you got your second dose, OR three doses if it has been more than six months since you got your second dose).

Proof of vaccination will be required. 

        Applications are now CLOSED for the 2022 SMASH Peer Leader Retreat!

New Peer Leaders:

If you have NOT attended a SMASH Retreat before, please download the following application form for New Peer Leaders

Returning Peer Leaders:

If you have attended a SMASH Retreat before and are interested in returning as a Peer Apprentice, please download the application form for Returning Peer Leaders

(subject to change):

Day 1

  • Participants arrive in Yellowknife from their home communities
  • All participants and facilitators spend the night at the Yellowknife Ski Club

Day 2

  • Participants and facilitators leave for Blachford Lake Lodge at in the morning 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 and mental health education, empowerment
    exercises, 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
  • In the evening, 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!
End of Retreat-December 15 
Participants check in with the Program Coordinator until they have completed their Community Projects (Due before December 15th).

Blachford is a premier 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 (no more than 30 pounds).


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

    • T-shirts – bring your SMASH t-shirts/hoodies if you have one!
    • Jeans/outdoor-appropriate pants
    • Shorts
    • Comfortable clothes for being active (Stretchy/loose clothing)
    • Pajamas
    • Swim suit / trunks
    • Hoodie
    • Underwear
    • Socks
    • Sandals (optional)
    • Water shoes (optional, if you want them for swimming)
    • Runners or light hiking shoes
    • Light waterproof jacket (in case it rains)
    • Sunhat/ball cap
    • Toiletries
      • Toothbrush & toothpaste
      • Hairbrush and/or comb
      • Lip balm
      • Deodorant
      • Glasses/contacts/contact solution (if needed)
      • Sunscreen
    • Sunglasses
    • Camera and battery charger (optional)
    • Backpack
    • Water bottle (reusable and marked with your name!)
    • Flashlight or headlamp
    • Eye Mask for sleeping (optional)
    • A book (optional)
    • Swimming towel (shower towels will be provided)
    • Sleeping bag, pillow, and a small foamie 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! If you are coming from a community that is very far away, please discuss this with SMASH staff as you may be able to borrow some of ours instead!
    • Any medications in their original containers (these are to be given to the Retreat First Aider on the first day for safe keeping – they will be given 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 SMASH Peer Leader Retreat, smoking, drinking and drugs are not allowed. Please leave these items at home so they don’t get confiscated and 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 as these are team-building activities that are central to the SMASH 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 SMASH 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 when they’re completed!
  • SMASH 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 SMASH Peer Leader Retreat is an opportunity for young men, male-identifying, and gender-diverse youth from around the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon to come together and talk about the issues that affect them in their real lives – relationships, sexual health, friendships, and social issues – while doing fun activities. Over the last year, we’ve been travelling around the North doing workshops with youth in junior high and high schools, and this Retreat is the chance for them to get even more involved with SMASH. The Retreat will be a week of working with 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?

SMASH (Strength Masculinities And Sexual Health) is a program that is part of the non-profit organization FOXY. The retreat is organized by Dr. Candice Lys, PhD in Public Health. SMASH has existed since May 2016 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, our SMASH Peer Leader Retreat will be held from July 5-13, 2022. 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 SMASH 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 in 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 men, male-identifying, and gender diverse youth living in the Northwest Territories who are between the ages of 13 and 17 years (on July 5, 2022) 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 3 Northern territories represented.

If I came to the Peer Leader Retreat before, can I attend again in 2022?

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

Are young women invited too?

Aside from some of our facilitators who are women, the SMASH Retreat is for male-identifying youth, young men, and gender diverse youth.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Amanda at or 867 445 5661.

The FOXY Peer Leader Retreat is for female-identifying youth, young women, and gender diverse youth across the NWT!  Check out our FOXY 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 Director of Programs, Amanda, at (867) 445-5661 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 email or call Amanda at (867) 445-5661 to ask for one.

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

The 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 SMASH 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 with participants to provide supervision.

Regarding participants’ emotional safety, SMASH can include introspective activities that occasionally touch on some uncomfortable or awkward topics. While we try to ensure that all our SMASH activities occur in a safe space, free of judging and intolerance, we also encourage the young men 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 attends each Retreat to be there for the participants, and several SMASH 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.