Workshops and Werk/Shops: Chroma’s Pop-up 2SLGBTQIA+ March Break Camp Week

From March 6th through March 10th, Chroma NB organized a very unique pop-up March Break Camp for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community youth. The first of its kind in Saint John, this week full of a balance of new skill learning/building and entertaining fun.

On the first day of this queer youth camp started out with creativity and fashion! A lesson in finding thrifted gems and unique pieces, as Kyle from The Clothes Mine brought in a huge variety of clothing and accessories for everyone to search through and keep for themselves or gift to those they love.
Chroma’s education coordinator, Mariah, also got wrapped up in some fun art supplies and craft goodies for some DIY some décor and knitting creations.

The youth of our rainbow community landed in Tuesday at the Kent Theatre’s main space for “Cool Life Skills Day” .
Alex Saunders leader of the The Haus of 2D/drag artist/community advocate and Rachel Thorbahn manager of Shoppers Quispamsis Cosmetics/makeup artist lead the day with self care, makeup and cooking! Kitchen safety, knife skills and “taco in a bag” as well as drag/gender fluid makeup tips and tricks were imparted by Alex to enthusiastic minds. Rachel provided a skin care routine for all skin types and lessons in contour and day to day neutral makeup application for everyone.

Self care, cooking, independent abilities that show every child, teen and young adult that they are capable of taking care of themselves and building their own confidence based on what makes them feel good.

Midway through the pop-up camp week, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community youth (and Chroma staff!) were privileged to have local theatre icon, Matt Hamilton-Snow at the upstairs lounge area of Kent for Theatre Fun Day! Matt, currently the prop master for “Sense & Sensibility” at Imperial, ran through an excerpt from a classic Woody Allen one act stage play. The Chroma youth and staff took turns reading through the two-roll script and tried different ways of presenting and acting the scene based on input and guidance from Matt. After a delicious lunch provided by our friends at Sister’s Italian Foods, improv was the name of the game!! These young thespians absolutely slayed with their quick wits and ability to come up with talk and interaction on the fly! Many laughs had by all!

After a movie day at the West branch of Saint John Public Library, Chroma community members of all ages met up at the Saint John Tool Library & DIY Workshop. Brent Harris, Councillor at Large and woodworking pro, lead a tray making activity and taught skills and transferable tricks and tips all along the way. It was incredible to see our rainbow creators really finding their groove (wood pun completely intended) in this environment and craft new most, if not all of the participants.

The week came and went in the blink of an eye. This March Break camp was more than just community activities to fill the time of youth while school was out for the week. Events, activities, camps, workshops and community gatherings are essential for everyone’s growth. For 2SLGBTQIA+ youth to search for things to do during their break and to see a week of thoughtful and fun choices in brave spaces meant specifically for them, it’s a possibility I think a lot of queer adults dreamed about in our youth. Life skill lessons, artistic expression and community activities are something everyone should have the access to and feel like it is geared towards themselves as an individual and how they can use that individuality to contribute to the community and beyond.

To the community members that answered back to our call for facilities and facilitators, the venues that opened their doors and happily conveyed “our space is your space, let’s make memories and build you up”, to the youth and parents/friends/chosen family who participated and tried new things, to the local businesses who gifted and provided without expectation, thank you.

“If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself.” – Zanele Muholi

Chroma: Pride, Inclusion, Equality Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides support for 2SLGBTQIA+ people in the Saint John Region. Chroma commits to advocating for and collaborating with our community, as well as providing 2SLGBTQIA+ education to all. We promote positive initiatives for the community and conduct research to highlight gaps in services and policy to encourage positive change.

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