I’ve never been comfortable identifying as Two Spirit because I felt like I wasn’t allowed to. I mean, I’m white-passing and “only” 1/4 native so I’m “not really native”, right?
When an Elder spoke at a keynote at the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity’s GSA Forum, I was nearly in tears because I felt validated and it was something I had been struggling with for a long time.
Before learning about Two Spirit identities, I identified publicly as genderqueer or polygender, as I move literally everywhere on the gender spectrum. I never really knew what Two Spirit meant, but the definition that Elder Blu Waters gave helped me understand myself and my identity.
She then went on to say that she didn’t need a card from the government to know her identity and who she is. Both of her statements really resonated with me, and for the very first time, I felt as though I was valid and like I was allowed to claim and accept my identity as an Indigenous person.
I am an Indigenous person. It doesn’t matter that my father and his father before him married white people. It is still a part of me.
I am accepting this part of my identity, and I will not let my fear of not being “native enough” hold me back.
I wouldn’t have been able to accept this part of me if it wasn’t for initiatives like GSA Forum that the CCGSD run. Initiatives that include and have aspects that allow us to learn about Two Spirit people are so important, especially to the youth who would never learn about it any other way, and instead are stuck in the dark, constantly wondering if what they’re experiencing is valid. In school, we are taught about Indigenous people, sure, but we’re taught the stereotypes that continue to hurt the community. We’re not taught about the effect that colonization had on the perception of gender and sexuality, the fact that Turtle Island didn’t have borders before colonization, or anything remotely positive about our peoples.
More initiatives and campaigns like this where youth feel valued, accepted, and respected, are crucial to combating the negative and internalized feelings that many Two Spirits live with.