May 24, 2023
Found in “Community news”
At MEC, we love the outdoors. But we also recognize that it isn’t always the most accessible or equitable place. So last year, we launched Queer Gear Kits – annual grants to support 2SLGBTQIA+ community groups getting more folks outside.
“Recreating outdoors can be intimidating, exclusive and cost prohibitive, whether it be due to safety, gear requirements or perceived experience level,” said Nicola, Colleen and Jessie from The Monthly Cycle, one of last year’s Queer Gear Kits recipients. “Ironically, it’s some of these systemic barriers that make the act of going outside all the more important to the wellness of different groups!”
With 64 applicants in its inaugural year, it was incredibly tough to choose among all the great candidates. Congrats to Edmonton 2 Spirit Society, UBC CampOUT! and The Monthly Cycle – the 2022 recipients doing incredible work in their communities. Read on to learn about their outdoorsy plans.
Want to apply for 2023 Queer Gear Kit grants?
We’re opening Queer Gear Kits grant applications again, and we’re beyond excited. Spread the word if you know any groups that would be interested. Grant applications are open June 1 to 30, 2023 (we’ll contact recipients in August).
Edmonton 2 Spirit Society
Edmonton 2 Spirit Society (E2S) is an intergenerational non-profit organization that was built upon a foundation laid by other 2 Spirit leaders doing the same work in earlier years. They work with 2 Spirit and Indigenous Queer, Trans and Intersex people (2SIQTIP) and their kinship circles to ensure safer and more inclusive access to social, cultural and ceremonial support.
Cheyenne (they/them), Interim Executive Director of Edmonton 2 Spirit Society let us know what they’ve got planned:
How will your group use the Queer Gear Kits grant?
We’re aiming to use the kits to engage in land-based cultural activities that center 2SIQTIP and their kinship circles. There’s a distinct lack of 2 Spirit led and operated culture camps in and around amiskwacîwâskahikan, colonially known as Edmonton, and E2S hopes to develop programming to address this need. We have big dreams of hosting hide tanning camps, fasting ceremonies, and 2 Spirit regional gatherings, all of which will make use of the items in the Queer Gear Kits.
This grant will support our endeavors to bring 2SIQTIP community members outdoors and onto the land in more inclusive settings.
Why was the Edmonton 2 Sprit Society interested in this grant?
For many urban 2SIQTIP individuals, it can be difficult to access land-based activities that are inclusive of gender and sexual diversity. Connection to the land is such an integral part of many Indigenous communities however this was disrupted due to colonial processes. We wanted to apply to support future programs aimed at repairing our connection to the land.
Based in Vancouver, CampOUT! is an annual leadership and community development program that brings 2SLGBTQ+ youth between the ages of 14 to 21 together in an outdoor summer camp environment. They’re committed to removing financial barriers so all interested individuals can experience the outdoors, gain leadership skills, grow awareness of social issues, access critical health literacy resources and return to their home communities with networks of support.
Anna (she/her), Camp Director of CampOUT!, let us know what’s coming up:
How will CampOUT use the Queer Gear Kits grant?
This year will be our first full capacity in-person camp since 2019, and we’re excited to offer a tenting program alongside the cabin experience. We’ll have 60 campers, 5 cabins, and a bunch of MEC tents! For campers that would like to try sleeping under the stars, we’ll be able to offer them tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and their very own cabin leader to really get that campy experience while at CampOUT! Our goal is to aid campers in gaining the skills and confidence they can use to continue to create camping shelters year-round.
What’s something you wish more people knew about your group?
While there are lots of pay-for-service outdoor camping opportunities for youth, it’s important to us that CampOUT! does not have financial barriers.
For 2SLGBTQ+ youth, a price tag on a program may prevent a young person from even talking to their parent/caregivers about it.
Campers have dubbed our supporters their faerie/fairy godparents making this program accessible to queer, trans, Two-Spirit, and questioning youth regardless of their economic situation or if their families value an inclusive leadership program for 2SLGBTQ+ folks.
The Monthly Cycle
The Monthly Cycle organizes monthly social rides for women, trans, femme and non-binary riders in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since starting in 2021, they’ve offered group rides and supplementary workshops that promote the idea that cycling can (and should be) fun, safe and inclusive. The mission of The Monthly Cycle is to welcome, encourage and uplift riders that are underrepresented in cycling, and to foster a safe space for building confidence on two wheels.
The Monthly Cycle’s three organizers – Nicola (she/her), Colleen (she/her) and Jessie (she/her) – shared more:
How will the Monthly Cycle use the gear from this grant?
The gear will primarily be used to support our riders during the annual Full Moon Campout, our beginner-friendly bikepacking trip that occurs each fall. Last year, 23 folks – most of whom had never tried bikepacking – rode 35km of coastal gravel trails to a beautiful provincial park to camp.
These trips are preceded by a workshop where riders can ask questions about bike-powered adventures in a safe space, and donated and borrowed gear can be distributed so attendees can trial pack and ride their rigs. We’re also in the process of establishing our own TMC gear library that can serve our community year-round, and the amazing gear we secured through this grant is helping us get there!
Why is getting outside so important to the folks in your group?
We believe that everyone should be able to experience the joys of self-supported travel. Sadly, the reality is that the barriers to cycling are disproportionately experienced by queer women, trans (men and women), femme and non-binary riders. We’re slow-rolling the patriarchy, one group ride at a time.
We’re committed to breaking systemic barriers down with the provision of a safe, inclusive space to build confidence on two wheels.
Huge thank yous to all the groups building outdoor communities from coast to coast. We can’t wait to hear about your plans in this year’s Queer Gear Kits applications.