Indigenous - Two Spirit
About Two Spirit. For Two Spirit people.
Contact the organisations to see what is currently offered for support groups.
CREDIT: Chief Lady Bird Art. @chiefladybird
GRAPHIC CREDIT: The Two-Spirit Pride Flag and its history. Poster created by Corey Guiltner (he/him), an English & Art teacher making digital posters, and an ally for equality, equity, social justice, social change,
and reconciliation. In Edmonton, AB.
By Paula Tran. Global News. June 8, 2022.
"Despite the term’s relatively young age, Two-Spirit people have existed for centuries prior to European contact. Indigenous Elders tell and pass down stories about Two-Spirit people who were honoured and revered as visionaries and healers in many cultures.
The erasure of Two-Spiritedness from Indigenous communities was racist, colonial and incredibly harmful. As it became more and more dangerous, and even illegal, for Two-Spirit people to be open about their identity, many were prevented from doing so by family members or forced to conform to patriarchal gender roles.
The gender binary has also affected the way racialized trans, non-binary and Two-Spirit people describe their identities. Many cultures have multiple genders that can’t be described in English."
E2S - Edmonton 2 Spirit Society
Nonprofit Organization. Edmonton.
"Our Vision: Two Spirit peoples are recognized, respected and engaged in an integral manner, within Indigenous communities and society at large.
Our Mission: To re-establish and enhance our traditional roles and responsibilities as Two Spirit people in Indigenous communities while creating supportive environments within all societies for contemporary Two Spirit peoples."
Phone: (587) 385-9673
Private Facebook page. Pflag support group in Edmonton.
“OKM is a safe space for parents, family and friends of LGBTTQ who want to support and nurture their awareness from Cree and Indigenous worldview. Creating a safe space to engage in meaningful dialogues. Please join us parents, grandparents, guardians to those LGBTQ2S who need our love, understanding & support to grow and thrive.”
Gather each month to eat, share, learn and nurture one another’s living story of supporting LGBTTQ loved one from a nehiyaw perspective. There are also special guests who generously shares their wisdom in return our perspectives on gender and sexuality is opened to share with others.
These gatherings are open to all peoples who want to learn and support Indigenous worldviews surround our LGBTTQ community members.
Last Wednesday of the month, 5:30pm to 7pm, at MacEwan University kihêw waciston (7-131, 10700-104 Avenue NW, Edmonton)
Click for EMAIL.
By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Native News. Jan 19, 2022.
"Keegan Haze is an Edmonton-based photographer originally from Samson Cree Nation. His photography will be prominently exhibited in the Mino-Pimatisiwin: Reclaiming the “Good Life” Exhibition, in partnership with the Exposure Photography Festival 2022. Haze’s artwork, titled Dance with me ‘till sunset – features Maskwacis models and couple Chrissy Nepoose and Dustin Stamp – was selected by the curators of the exhibit.
Haze came out as transgender when he was 19 years old. 'At the time I was presenting as a female back on the reserve,' he explained. Haze is a transgender male – from female to male. He said that he has been transitioning to male over the last five+ years. He is passable as male and it’s been a long journey of self-discovery on his gender identity. He said growing up as a transgender male within a First Nation was difficult but overall he overcame a lot of adversity. 'I’m loving my life now. I’m happy with who I am. I learned to accept myself and love where I came from (Maskwacis)'.”
*** Click to go to Alberta page ***
"This site is designed to provide Two Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming communities in Canada with relevant and up-to-date legal information. Our information is broken down into national legal issues and provincial legal issues, as many laws change between each province or territory.
Use the provincial info tab on our header to find your province or territory, and then if the information you are looking for is not there please look to the national info page. Note that we do not and cannot provide legal advice, and this information is provided for general education purposes only (please see our disclaimer for more details). "
By filmmaker Lorne Olson. 2008. 22 min film.
"Filmmaker Lorne Olson had a vision of two-spirited people dancing, smiling, laughing; they were moving without shame, at peace with themselves and their place in the world.
Two-spirited people are comprised of a male and female spirit. Historically, they were venerated for their gifts, but such respect isn’t necessarily the case today. Lorne’s vision sparks him to rediscover the strength of the past to better face the challenges of today. This funny and buoyant film documents his touching journey."
Lorne Olson was raised in the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation in Manitoba—and at various points in his life has described himself as Métis, Oji-Cree, Indian or Aboriginal. This shifting sense of identity informs Apples & Indians (2006), a playful short made through the NFB’s First Stories initiative. With Second Stories: Deb-we-win Ge-ken-am-aan – Our Place in the Circle (2008), he pursues this interest in identity, celebrating Indigenous expressions of gender diversity. He has worked in various capacities on several APTN programs, including La Voix de Mechif and The Sharing Circle, and was a producer on the CBC radio program ReVision Quest.
Centre for Sexuality. Calgary.
This page contains links to related programs.
OUTreach Southern Alberta. Lethbridge and area.
“…list of Resources for two-spirit individuals to provide information and support. We encourage you to seek out your local Indigenous communities, and to get in touch with those engaged in practices, rites, and rituals that are meaningful and culturally informed.”
MLA Paul is the NDP Member for Edmonton-West Henday. 2023-.
Click to go to his Facebook page.
"Brooks Arcand-Paul has deep roots in the west end, and as a lawyer and community builder, has the skills and background to champion for good public education, strong healthcare facilities, and quality jobs for the community.
Brooks is the in-house legal counsel for the Alexander First Nation, where he provides legal advice and manages the legal affairs of the Nation of 2,300 people. Previously, Brooks was in private practice doing litigation work in the areas of Indigenous and employment law."
WRITTEN RESOURCES & VIDEOS
Dr James Makokis
Alberta physician. Numerous articles and news items below:
Canada's 'two-spirit' doctor: The Indigenous doctor helping trans youth
By Thomson Reuters Foundation. YouTube video. Jan 8, 2020. (ALBERTA)
"Alberta, Canada. Doctor James Makokis identifies as "two-spirit" - a term used by and for indigenous LGBT+ people in North America who identify with both masculinity and femininity, and which harks back to pre-colonial third gender roles. On the First Nations reservation of Kehewin Cree Nation, Dr Makokis spends much of his working life supporting other “two-spirit” people, particularly transgender teenagers, many of whom face persecution within their own communities.
One patient, Alec, has been seeing the doctor for a month now and is in the early stages of transitioning from female to male. In addition to hormone therapy, the treatment sees Dr Makokis utilise traditional indigenous teachings, drawing Alec away from depressive feelings and towards self-acceptance. This sense of inclusivity and belonging is encapsulated by a two-spirit sweat and talking circle hosted by Dr Makokis. Two-Spirit attendees share their stories in the warmth of a teepee and a new community is formed."
Alberta doctor attracts people from around country, world
By Raffy Boudjikanian. CBC News Edmonton.
Drag, two spirit and all things fabulous
APTN InFocus. YouTube video. Jan 10, 2019. (Alberta)
"Two spirit people have been a part of Indigenous culture long before settlers arrived in North America. Colonization brought many things with it, including a different foreign perspective on gender and sexuality. On this addition of InFocus, host Melissa Ridgen chatted with drag queens – the Queen of the Oil Patch and the Master of the Jig – all of whom shared what it’s like for them to be two spirited."
By Vivian Zhi. June 10, 2021. (Alberta)
"Currently, Makokis is the only doctor working with transgender patients in Enoch Cree Nation, a reserve in central Alberta. Unfortunately, many family doctors don’t feel confident to assess gender dysphoria (the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth) and prescribe hormone transitioning, resulting in a lack of physicians working in trans health. Furthermore, there hasn’t been training in the medical field focused on transgender patients until very recently, and most trans care is located in Canada’s urban centres like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. "
Rainbow Health Ontario. 2016.
"While the health disparities between Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) people in what is now known as Canada and their non-Indigenous peers are well documented, little research exists on the unique health needs of sexual and gender minority individuals who identify as Indigenous. Existing data on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and two- spirit Indigenous people suggests that they experience unique barriers to culturally safe health care, and are at greater risk for negative mental and physical health outcomes than their non-Indigenous LGBTQ peers and their non-LGBTQ Indigenous peers.
The purpose of this fact sheet is to introduce settler service providers to two-spirit and LGBTQ Indigenous health concerns as indicated in current research. Throughout this document, the term “non-Indigenous” will be used interchangeably with “settler” and will refer to one who does not identify as First Nations, Inuit or Métis, and whose ancestors are not indigenous to the land on which they live."
AJ+ YouTube video. May 12, 2019. (Alberta)
"What is it like to provide trans care on an Indigenous reserve that serves 2,400 people in central Alberta? For this two-spirit Cree doctor, it's more than his job. Dr Makokis created a unique approach to transgender care, combining Indigenous and wstern teachings. AJ+ followed Dr. Makokis for a day to find out what makes his patients drive 8 hours to see him. Hint: His openness about his identity is a big part of it."
Two-spirit rites of passage (Keynote)
Community-Based Research Centre, Vancouver, BC. Nov 27, 2019. (BC)
"Presented by Dr. James Makokis at Summit 2019: Queering Healthcare Access and Accessibility, in Vancouver October 31 - November 1. For more information visit cbrc.net/summit
In 2016 on the encouragement of his colleague Dr. Adrian Edgar (former CPATH President), Dr. Makokis started a transgender focused practice in South Edmonton, Maskêkosikhk (Enoch Cree Nation, “Where the medicines grow”) and Kinokamasihk (Kehewin Cree Nation, “Long Lake”). Since there were few Family Physicians who offered cross-hormone therapy for gender transitioning, word quickly spread in the community and people from all over the province were driving to both clinics to receive their care. Currently, Dr. Makokis is working with Dr. Lana Whiskeyjack (University of Alberta, Faculty of Extension) on creating opportunities for transgender and gender diverse Indigenous youth to be able to participate in “two-spirit rites of passage” ceremonies. Rites of passage ceremonies are a Nehiyô ceremony and health prevention activity that mark the transition from childhood to adulthood and the teachings that go along with that, including how to be a good member of the Cree Nation. In this talk, Dr. Makokis will share some of the teachings and lessons from this process.
Dr. Makokis is a Nehiyô (Plains Cree), Two Spirit physician from Onihcikiskwapiwinihk (Saddle Lake Cree Nation) who practices Family Medicine in Kinokamasihk (Kehewin Cree Nation) and South Edmonton where he has a transgender health focused practice. His passion drives him to elevate the Nehiyô health system, which includes the use of Nehiyâw maskihkiya (Cree medicines). In addition to his work with First Nations Peoples, Dr. Makokis has a strong interest in providing high quality care to the Trans community. Outside his clinical practice, Dr. Makokis has served as Chairperson of the Indigenous Wisdom Council of Alberta Health Services, and is a Board Member of the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute of Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto. He holds a Masters of Health Science from the University of Toronto and is a recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (currently called Indspire Award).
[Dr. Makokis is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta and an Adjunct Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. He is an endurance athlete and competes in races above 100km in length, and has completed various marathons throughout the world. He believes in the importance of Nehiyô cihcikewina (ceremonies), Nehiyawewin (the Cree language), and Nehiyô mamitoneyitamowin (Cree thought) in living a healthy life. He married his husband Anthony Johnson during the 2017 Vancouver International Marathon, where they said “I do, at KM 32.]
Understanding sexuality and gender from a Nehiyô maskihkiwiyiniw (Plains Cree Physician) perspective within Treaty Number Six Territory
By Dr James Makokis, MD, CCFP, MHSc. / CPSA (College of Physicians of Alberta) August Messenger Special Edition 2021, From Physicians. Posted August 31, 2021. (Alberta)
“As a physician who has long hair and also identifies as a gay-male or two-spirit person, I have often been misgendered in clinical settings during my training and in practice. The English language, Western culture and Western medicine place value on categorizing and labeling people according to sexuality, gender and appearance (including hair and hair length). I encourage my physician colleagues to explore concepts of gender and sexuality with their Indigenous patients in safe, non-judgemental and open conversations while keeping in mind that these are Nehiyô teachings and not all Nehiyawak will be aware of these teachings, nor are all Indigenous Peoples Nehiyawak.”
Edmonton Public Library. EPL Picks. (Alberta)
"For those who may not be familiar with the term, author and Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer member of Peguis First Nation Joshua Whitehead offers this definition "Two-spirit (2S) originated in 1990 in Winnipeg as a pan-term that pays respect to the diversity of 2S across hundreds of nations, each with their own understanding, stories, and responsibilities for what a 2S person does and entails within their community."
The media organization Indian Country Today offers the following alternate definition: "Two Spirit people have both a male and female spirit within them and are blessed by their Creator to see life through the eyes of both genders."
Indian Country Today — which covers Native American people in North America as well as First Nations people in Canada and Indigenous people worldwide, also explains that many nations have their own words to describe two-spirit people.
As you can see, the term Two-Spirit is constantly evolving and will vary depending on which people from which nation you are speaking with. EPL has many two-spirited authors in its collection from which we can learn more."
By Sarah Hunt, PhD. National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Research/Centre de Collaboration Nationale de la Sante Autochtone at the Univ of Northern BC. Prince George, BC. 2016.
"In the context of Aboriginal communities in Canada, achieving equity for Two-Spirit people is an emergent field of health research, which intersects with broad movements for both Aboriginal rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights nationally and internationally. Given that Two- Spirit people are largely overlooked in Aboriginal health literature, the purpose of this paper is to introduce the
historical, contemporary and emergent issues related to Two-Spirit health. The discussion that follows is framed around the premise that Two-Spirit health must be understood within the dual context of colonial oppression, which is rooted in heteropatriarchy, and the vibrant resurgence of Two-Spirit peoples’ gender roles and sexual identities. The intended audience of this introductory paper is health practitioners, Indigenous community members and researchers working in areas of Indigenous health, gender and sexuality. Further, the well-being of Two-Spirit people should be of concern to anyone working to build the capacity of communities to achieve health equity for all, truly bringing meaning to the teaching 'all my relations'.”
This publication is available for download at: www.nccah-ccnsa.ca.
All NCCAH materials are available free and can be reproduced in whole or in art with appropriate attribution and citation. For further information or to obtain additional copies, please contact: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9
Tel: 250 960 5250 // Fax: 250 960 5644 // Email: email@example.com // Web: www.nccah-ccnsa.ca
it was never going to be okay
By jaye simpson. Oct 2020. (BC)
jay simpson is a poet and non-binary Two Spirit trans woman in BC.
"it was never going to be okay is a collection of poetry and prose exploring the intimacies of understanding intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity and queerness, while addressing urban Indigenous diaspora and breaking down the limitations of sexual understanding as a trans woman. As a way to move from the linear timeline of healing and coming to terms with how trauma does not exist in subsequent happenings, it was never going to be okay tries to break down years of silence in simpson's debut collection of poetry:
i am five
my sisters are saying boy
i do not know what the word means but -
i am bruised into knowing it: the blunt b,
the hollowness of the o, the blade of y
By Ma-Nee Chacaby. 2016.
"A compelling, harrowing, but ultimately uplifting story of resilience and self-discovery. "A Two-Spirit Journey" is Ma-Nee Chacaby's extraordinary account of her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. From her early, often harrowing memories of life and abuse in a remote Ojibwa community riven by poverty and alcoholism, Chacaby's story is one of enduring and ultimately overcoming the social, economic, and health legacies of colonialism.
As a child, Chacaby learned spiritual and cultural traditions from her Cree grandmother and trapping, hunting, and bush survival skills from her Ojibwa stepfather. She also suffered physical and sexual abuse by different adults, and in her teen years became alcoholic herself. At twenty, Chacaby moved to Thunder Bay with her children to escape an abusive marriage. Abuse, compounded by racism, continued, but Chacaby found supports to help herself and others.
Over the following decades, she achieved sobriety; trained and worked as an alcoholism counsellor; raised her children and fostered many others; learned to live with visual impairment; and came out as a lesbian. In 2013, Chacaby led the first gay pride parade in Thunder Bay.
Ma-Nee Chacaby has emerged from hardship grounded in faith, compassion, humour, and resilience. Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people."
Rainbow Resource Centre. Winnipeg. (Manitoba)
History of the term "two spirit" in the First Nations.
Two-Spirit and Indigenous Transgender Stories
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Video. (BC)
Lecture Series on Aboriginal Issues 2016: Co-presented by SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, the Indigenous Research Institute and the Office for Aboriginal Peoples. March 9, 2016.
”This presentation will discuss emerging themes from Two-Spirit and Indigenous transgender co-researchers in a community-based participatory research project about safety, well-being, belonging and place in the lives of transgender, Two-Spirit and gender nonconforming people in Vancouver BC. This research project is being developed and conducted in collaboration with transgender, Two-Spirit and gender nonconforming community members to address community health concerns and strategies for action. The study uses Photovoice, a participatory action research approach that combines photography, storytelling and social action.”
"Cindy Holmes is a white, queer, cisgender researcher who was raised on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron people in Ontario. Her research explores intersections between violence, social inequities, health and place. It is grounded in over 20 years work in community health and social justice movements. She is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. //
Bon Fabian is a proud Two-Spirit living in Vancouver, who runs Two-Spirit sweat lodges and is called to provide spiritual support for Aboriginal people who are sick in hospitals. //
Elizabeth “Raven” James is a Native American Two-Spirit post-operative transsexual who has worked with the Trans PULSE Project, Taking Care of Business and the Sharp Access Project. She is a published author with Emerald Insight and the Canadian Scholars’ Press. She is a tough warrior who is a 3rd degree Midiwinn teacher. //
Sandy Lambert is a Two-Spirit man who has been involved in the HIV/AIDS and Indigenous health movements for the past 10 years. This has included meaningful work as a Community Research Associate with many projects throughout British Columbia. //
Chase Willier (Nirkwuscin) is a Two-Spirit Cree (nehiyaw) transman from Sucker Creek and Saddle Lake First Nations in Alberta. He spent most of his service in the RCMP working with Aboriginal peoples and was traditionally adopted by the Syilx Nation while working in their territory. Since retirement, he has been actively involved in numerous initiatives in the trans community."
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Video. (BC)
Lecture Series on Aboriginal Issues 2016: Co-presented by SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, the Indigenous Research Institute and the Office for Aboriginal Peoples. March 9, 2016.
"This presentation will discuss emerging themes from Two-Spirit and Indigenous transgender co-researchers in a community-based participatory research project about safety, well-being, belonging and place in the lives of transgender, Two-Spirit and gender nonconforming people in Vancouver BC. This research project is being developed and conducted in collaboration with transgender, Two-Spirit and gender nonconforming community members to address community health concerns and strategies for action. The study uses Photovoice, a participatory action research approach that combines photography, storytelling and social action."
A two-spirit journey: finding identity through Indigenous culture
United Way East Ontario. YouTube video. Aug 23, 2017. (Ontario)
"Gina knew there was something missing in her life. Seeking help from a spiritual healer, she realized the answers lied within her own Mi'gmaq culture."
US & INTERNATIONAL
"Two Spirit" - Injunuity
Vision Maker Media. Animated video. Nov 11, 2013.
Featuring: Mica Valdez, Nazbah Tom, Arlando Teller, Charlie Ballard, Esther Lucero.
"Two Spirit: A person of First Nations or Native American descent possessing both a male and female spirit. An umbrella term used to describe the fluidity of First Nations/Native American gender identity and sexuality with respect to traditional tribal roles."
United Way East Ontario. 2017.
“Gina knew there was something missing in her life. Seeking help from a spiritual healer, she realized the answers lay within her own Mi'gmaq culture.”
Two Spirit Powwow
Arizona Public Media. YouTube video. May 29, 2020
Traditionally, powwow categories are listed with the gender binary “Women” and “Men”.
"However, many tribes recognize more than two genders. The 2nd Annual Two Spirit Powwow took place in Phoenix last February and the powwow committee decided to remove gender from all categories. The Two Spirit Powwow is hosted by Native PFLAG, an organization with the goal to keep families together and foster the traditional teachings of what it means to be LGBT and/or Two-Spirit. They envision a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression."
Two Spirits: Changing cultural attitudes
Megan Mitchell, Cliff Naylor - KFYR-TV. Apr 2017. Documentary.
What does "Two-Spirit" mean?
InQueery|them. YouTube video. 2018.
"Geo Neptune explores the history of the term 'Two-Spirit' and who it pertains to. Does it mean two genders? Can anyone use it to describe themselves?"
"InQueery is the series that takes a deeper look at the meaning, context, and history of LGBTQ+ vocabulary and culture."
Nicholas Metcalf. Ted Talk. 2015
“In his talk, Nick Metcalf gives insight into his experiences being a two spirit, and explains why gender fluidity is necessary in today’s world.”