Does the Canadian government fund drag camps for children?
In late March 2023, a misleading claim circulated online that the Canadian government had allegedly funded “drag camps” for children and young people. “Camps that indoctrinate children as young as 7 with gender ideology and sexual confusion are now encouraged and subsidized by all levels of government,” right-wing politician Maxime Bernier said Posted on his Twitter account.
Attached to the tweet was an alleged flyer listing organizations including the Canada Council for the Arts (which bills itself as the country’s national arts funder) as supporters of the alleged camps, as well as photos of young people in wigs, heavy makeup and costumes.
This is absolutely disgusting.
Camps where children as young as 7 are indoctrinated with gender ideology and sexual confusion are now encouraged and subsidized by all levels of government. pic.twitter.com/JBsnD8tKHx
— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) March 31, 2023
While the allegation appeared to be based on genuine financial ties between some Canadian government agencies and a theater in Vancouver, British Columbia, it drew a direct line between taxpayer money and specific events that were not supported by evidence.
Bernier’s tweet was widely shared by right-wing accounts on the platform, including Libraries of TikTok. The claim and flyer also appeared on other social media platforms, such as Reddit And tick tock. Some posts cited “the Canadian government” as the driving force behind the alleged funding. Others specifically mentioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Meanwhile, right-wing websites like The postmillennial And The daily caller promoted the claim.
The Junior Drag Camp for Children Ages 7-11 and Teen Drag Camp for Young Adults Ages 12-17 were real-life events organized by the non-profit Carousel Theater for Young People in Vancouver, BC, taking place in July 2023 should Camps in early 2023 on his social media accounts and promoted it on his website. Camps also took place in 2022.
Breakdown of the viral tweet
The top pink half of the flyer shared by Bernier was an authentic advertisement for the theater’s stocks.
However, the purple section of the flyer, which purportedly lists government agencies that “sponsored and subsidized” the camps, was seemingly taken from an unrelated part of the theater’s website and added digitally to the camp’s advertisement.
The purple area showed five government agencies: the City of Vancouver, the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, Granville Island, and the Government of Canada. These entities were actually shown in theaters website as a supporter, and financial records showed they had provided funds to the nonprofit over the years.
However, there was no indication that the camps in question were specifically funded by the government, and none of the theater’s materials promoting these events even referred to the government agencies, let alone as “supporters.”
Aside from the main claim about funding for the camps, the images of children in drag in Bernier’s tweet were also misleading. None of them had anything to do with the theater.
Three of the four photos were old pictures of teenage drag performer Desmond Napoles, aka “Desmond is Amazing.” One could be found a video from 2017 by former Infowars reporter Millie Weaver, another was spotted on Napoles’ Twitter account in 2018, and the third was from a 2019 event. The fourth was from a child attending one 2018 RuPaul Drag Convention.
Here’s what financial records show
According to financial records listed on the websites of the five government agencies have all awarded them Carousel Theater for Young People has received various grants over the years – money intended for the overall budget of the non-profit organization.
In other words, government agencies granted money to the theater to spend on general operations, a broad category of expenses, and not on any specific program.
It was not known if or how the costs associated with the drag camps would fit into this fund of funds. Also unknown was the price of the bearings. We reached out to the theater with these questions and will update this fact check when we receive a response.
City of Vancouver website listed the theater as a 2022 grantee. A spokesman said the nonprofit is one of 150 nonprofit arts and culture organizations that have received “core funding” from the city. She said the funding pool contributes to operations and programming at nonprofits, such as methods to create new jobs for artists and cultural workers.
(In addition to the City of Vancouver, we have reached out to the communications offices of the Canada Council for the Arts, Granville Island, the Government of Canada and the British Columbia Arts Council for responding to the viral allegation. We’ll update this report when or if we get replies.)
The Canada Council for the Arts sponsored the Carousel Theater for Young People between 2017 and 2021, according to a list of Canada Council for the Arts grant recipients. Website. The documentation outlining the parameters of this funding said Money was granted to cover the general costs of the organization as a wholeas well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The database did not list the theater as a grantee beyond 2021.
The British Columbia Arts Council granted the promotion of the youth carousel theater in the financial years 2013 to 2022 according to a List of scholarship recipients on the Council’s website. The reasons for scholarship funding that we have listed below have varied over the years.
- 2013-2014: Professional Art Development Operations Assistant, Special Projects – Capacity and Sustainability, Early Career Development – Internships, Residencies, Mentorships
- 2014-2015: Professional Art Development – Operations, Special Projects – Capacity and Sustainability, Early Career Development – Internships
- 2015-2016: Professional Arts Development – Operations, Professional Arts Projects – Capacity and Sustainability, Professional Arts Projects – Early Career Development, Professional Arts Projects – Youth Engagement Program
- 2016-2017: Professional Art Development, Operational Assistance, Strategic Initiatives – Youth Engagement
- 2017-2018: Professional Arts Development Operational Support, Strategic Initiatives – Early Career Development, Arts Based Community Development
- 2018-2019: Operational support for professional artistic development, add-on grant for all operational support programs
- 2019-2020: Professional Artistic Development Operational Support, Supplementary Scholarship, Strategic Initiatives – Early Career Development
- 2020-2021: Operational Support for Professional Arts Development, Arts and Cultural Resilience Supplement, Stronger BC Resilience Supplements (November 2020), Stronger BC Resilience Supplements (March 2021)
- 2021-2022: Operational Support for Professional Arts Development, Arts and Cultural Resilience Supplement
The theater was not listed on the Council website as a grantee between the months of April to October 2022, the latest grant period at the time of publication.
On the Granville Islands administrative websiteThe Carousel Theater for Young People was listed among the government’s ‘cultural partners’ who have received funding 2019-2020 to increase “Creativity, Celebration and Expression” on the island. At the time of publication, it was unknown if this program would remain active or if the theater would retain its “cultural partner” status.
By the Canada Arts Presentation Fund, Canadian heritage And Employment and Social Development Canada Programs received grants from the Canadian government to the theater in 2014 and 2018 to date, according to a list of grantees on the government’s website. Below is a breakdown of the programs that gave money to the theater, by year:
- 2014: Canadian Heritage
- 2018: Employment and Social Development Canada
- 2019: Employment and Social Development Canada, Canada Arts Presentation Fund
- 2020: Canada Arts Presentation Fund
- 2021: Canada Arts Presentation Fund, Employment and Social Development Canada, Canadian Heritage
- 2022: Canada Arts Presentation Fund – CAPF – Budget 2021 Reengaging, Employment and Social Development Canada, Canadian Heritage
None of the five government agencies advertised the drag camps on their own platform, based on our analysis of their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Cultural Grants 2022 (CASC, Advance Grants, Capacity). City of Vancouver, Dec. 28, 2021, p. 16,
bell, Amy. “Parent Advice: Summer camps can be a great place for kids to discover new things | CBC News.” CBCJune 26, 2022,
Current Cultural Partners – Granville Island Administration. Retrieved April 3, 2023.
“Desmond Napoles Visits Derrick Barry Presents BRITNEY’S.” Getty ImagesAccessed April 3, 2023.
Derworiz, Collette. “Calgary City Council passes safety regulations after protests at library drag events.” The Canadian PressMarch 14, 2023,
“DRAG CAMP | Drama School for Children & Youth.” Carousel theater for young peopleAccessed April 4, 2023.
“Participate and persevere.” Canada’s Council for the ArtsAccessed April 3, 2023.
Grant Report April – October 2022.
” TwitterAccessed April 3, 2023.
Kasprak, Alex. “Are these real videos of babies at drag shows?” snoutMarch 6, 2023
Liberals “pull” children into early sexualization. www.youtube.comAccessed April 3, 2023.
Receiver | BC Arts Council. May 22, 2019,
“Recipients – 2017 to present.” Canada’s Council for the ArtsAccessed April 3, 2023.
Secretariat, Treasury Board of Canada. Open government portal. Retrieved April 3, 2023.
Tate, Jamie Lee. “???????????? Photos of the fabulous kids from RuPaul’s Drag Convention.” ViceMay 15, 2018,
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