A new St. John's summer camp is giving children and youth the opportunity to learn about cultural diversity through two days of workshops and activities — all for free.
Cultural Inclusion Camp is a two-day event spearheaded by Raven Khadeja, a local activist and one of the founders of Black Lives Matter NL. She describes the camp as a traditional summer camp with a non-traditional focus on anti-racism, the LGBT community and more.
Khadeja is the owner of Ravensong Consulting, a company that offers anti-racism and cross-cultural sensitivity training. She said she decided to start the camp after identifying a need for anti-racism education for children and youth in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"It helps children figure out who they want to be, helps them figure out their identity and their identity in relation to other people's identity," she said. "We have children of every race because our class is open to every race. And they're having an amazing time."
She hopes the workshops help kids think critically about what they see on social media and on television.
Khadeja said the camp aligns with her work as an activist with Black Lives Matter, as well as her experiences as a Black woman.
"I often hear the saying 'does it always have to be about race?' And, yes, it does, because race is a social construct that affects me every day of my life," she said.
Learning cultural inclusion
Khadeja partnered with local academics, activists and organizations to present workshops focused on a number of topics.
She said the participants in the camp range from age six to 20, so the workshops are a mixture of play-oriented activities and seminars.
For example, an actor led kids in an acting class, while also discussing prejudice and stereotypes in the entertainment industry. A rapper hosted a workshop focused on cultural appropriation through the lens of rap.
A professor led a seminar focused on the birth of anti-Black racism in Canada and migration for Black people. Trans Support NL gave a workshop about Black members of the LGBT community.
Khadeja said one of her goals is to make the event as accessible as possible. The camp is entirely free, and even provides breakfast.
"It's just a really amazing camp because I'm learning so much about culture and stuff," said nine-year-old Nyala Adam. "I don't think I would have gotten this if I hadn't have went to this camp."
Elizabeth Rowe Baggs, 15, said the camp showed her the importance of learning about other cultures and issues like racism and homophobia.
"My biggest takeaway would be that it's ignorant not to educate yourself on things and that it's super easy to learn about all of these issues," she said.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.