“First and foremost in our forming the non-profit was always the community at the centre. Not just the LGBTQ2S+ community, but also the wider community.”
Christopher Wyse, chair with Slay the Night says that inclusivity is important. That everyone is visible and able to express themselves authentically. His comments come as the group hosted its AGM to report on its first year of activity. Wyse says it’s an honour to be able to work with groups across Saskatchewan and Alberta and assist in doing similar work with those organizations.
Wyse says they are also pleased that their storytelling group Drag Queen Story Hour has received recognition as the official Canadian Chapter.
“We have done readings all across Canada with that in the last year. Reaching out to schools and even businesses who want to increase their inclusivity and learn a little bit about us.”
The group is also proud of their monthly programming including art and theatre, numerous YouTube videos promoting their work, and children’s programming with Slay the Night Kids.
Secretary-Treasurer Jenson Brown says that the kids’ group runs with their own ideas for organizations they want to assist.
“When we sit down and have a kids’ meeting, our monarchs in training are actually there on camera with us and they have their input and we do our best as adults to facilitate that. And the kids get to decide which organizations that we raise funds for and they don’t just pick little ones. They pick like the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.”
Slay the Night and Slay the Night Kids fundraised $2500 for the following groups this past year:
- SPCA Lloydminster and District – Slay the Night Hallowe’en Spooktacular Event
- Grant MacEwan Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity – Slay the Night Amateur St. Patrick’s Day Event co-hosted with Queer Kindness
- LGBTQ+ Society of Lloydminster – Slay the Night Valentines Extravaganza Event co-hosted with the LGBTQ+ Society of Lloydminster, PRIDE Drag Bingo Night, and the Lloydminster Stop on the YXE Drag Collective’s Drag Me Across Saskatchewan Tour
- Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation – Slay the Night KIDS! Paint afternoon event
- Little Bear Child and Youth Advocacy Program at Lloydminster Sexual Assault Services – Slay the Night KIDS! Summer Event
- UNICEF Canada – Slay the Night KIDS! Hallowe’en Bootacular Event
“So to be able to look at all these different groups and be able to say which ones we want to partner up and raise funds for, that is really exciting as well from a business point of view,” says Brown.
As well as spreading their efforts, they have been able to work alongside several groups:
- Saskatoon Public Library Reading with Royalty Program
- Engagement Community Podcast (@engagementlifeproject on Facebook)
- LGBTQ+ Society of Lloydminster
- Drag Queen Story Hour Organization
- Servus Credit Union with grant funding for Slay the Night Kids
- The Sticks Billiards and Lounge
- SoundWave Entertainment
- Sublime Negatives Photography
- YXE Drag Collective, Saskatoon
Slay the Night is getting ready for its third Valentine’s extravaganza, From Lloyd with Love. Merchandising Director, Jennifer Holmes-Finnemore gives a quick insight to their production process.
“We all just started out saying you know we are going to do this Valentine’s thing and all of sudden, it turned into a musical story. And it’s actually pretty great.”
The group says their musical tastes span multiple genres and all their ideas combine for the final take.
“The one thing that I really love too, is that no idea is a dumb idea. We really do foster that. And because of that, we actually have show planning into 2024,” says Brown.
The weekend show is Saturday February 12th and tickets are almost sold out. The Slay the Night facebook page reads they will sell tickets at the door only if space remains.
The group shares they have developed into a non-profit that’s helping other groups in the community.
“The biggest reason that we have been able to do as much for the community for different organizations is that we have some fantastic performers who are willing to go to any lengths and volunteer time and talent. All of that makes a huge difference.”
Future steps for the group include fostering their inclusivity and self expression, as well as being a role model for the kids and planning their summer camp, says Wyse.
Group members add that their work is allowing community members to delve into self discovery. Holmes-Finnemore shares the role that this has played in her daughter’s life.
“She told me that she thinks that she is gender-fluid. And I asked her if she knew what that meant and she gave the entire description of it. And a few weeks later, I asked her if that was still how she felt and she said and it was like,’Yeah, if I want to wear some boy clothes and do this and do that, I can, can’t I?’ And I was like you absolutely can.”
Holmes-Finnemore concludes that this dynamic is the effect the group is having.
“The fact that in just a short few months of being with Slay the Night, my daughter came to me and said something like this, is just exactly what we are trying to have and it’s pretty much perfect.”
Slay the Night extends its gratitude to all the local sponsors and community supporters.