Canada: Indigenous Queer Liberation

TSPM, in collaboration with Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc., will host the 31st annual gathering on August 3-6, 2018, near Beausejour, Manitoba.. The theme, “Manitou Exists Here” is reflective of the spiritual and ecological nature of this location. Approximately 125 participants representing various Indigenous and Native American nations and tribes from across Canada and the US are expected to attend. The four-day agenda will include cultural activities, health and wellness sessions, leadership building, anti-homophobia and human rights training, and networking opportunities.

The Two-Spirited People of Manitoba began in 1986 in Winnipeg. A group of concerned community members came together to support each other and plan community events. We became a non-profit organization in September 2007.

Over 100 Participants: At this year's gathering we had over 100 participants from across Turtle Island. Delegates came from New York, Vancouver, North Dakota, Alberta, and Nova Scotia.

The gathering represented the circle of family, from Elders to youth to toddlers. For four days, we shared stories and teachings, created art, and  participated in healing ceremonies.

How our gatherings began...

History tells us that Indigenous Queer people were present and lived openly in Pre-Columbian families, tribes and large cities throughout the Americas. As Post-Contact urban centres grew, Two-Spirit people continued to live within these colonial spaces and much later, in the 1940's and 50's, more people migrated from reserves to these cities. For the most part, Two-Spirit people existed on the edges of the broader gay community until the 1970's when groups began to organize themselves around their Indigenous identities and cultures. For example, the Gay American Indians (GAI) opened in San Francisco in 1975 and the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society  (GVNCS) began in British Columbia in 1979. The 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations (TPFN) formally organized in Toronto in 1989.

The fight for Indigenous Queer rights intersected with that of the larger Gay community at the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987. GAI and many other Indigenous LGBT people were part of this movement. AIDS cases among gay Two-Spirit men was also devastating urban Indigenous gay communities at this time and this crisis galvanized some community leaders to reach out to Two-Spirit people as a way to prevent further HIV cases.

See more via The Two-Spirited People of Manitoba