Updated: Jun 1
Thunder Bay, ON – The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is proudly celebrating Pride Month. Within Indigenous cultures Two-Spirit peoples are recognised as great sources of knowledge; they are keepers of traditions and tellers of Creation stories.
Elder Myra Laramee is credited with coining the term "Two-Spirit" during the Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay, and Lesbian American Conference in Winnipeg in 1990. The term is a translation of the Anishinaabemowin expression "niizh manidoowag," which directly translates to “two spirits”.
Pride began with the uprising of racialized transgender women in 1969 that addressed targeted harassment by police in New York. Protests inspired many in Turtle Island, and led to the Christopher Street Liberation March that now marks the beginning of annual Pride celebrations. Pride has inspired a movement of international change and activism.
“It was awful to be gay in those days. On the news I think I said: I love who I am. […] I am who I am, and I’m happy to be gay! And because I was proud of who I am, another Anishinaabe came out. There’s still a lot of work that has to be done. We’re not really accepted yet.” – Ojibwe-Cree Elder Ma-Nee Chacaby, who came out publicly as a Two-Spirit lesbian in 1988.
“I am honoured and privileged to say that working with ONWA, I have been able to reach out to Indigenous transgendered youth and young adults that are in remote communities that have no help, no support, and no understanding of what they're going through. […] Not only are Indigenous transgender youth and young adults facing racism because of their culture, but they're also facing racism on who they are themselves.” – Gia Provenzano, Gender Journey’s Fascinator. .
“Supporting the Two-Spirit transgender community strengthens the values that the 7 Grandfather Teachings have gifted us. Pride month is a time to honour and celebrate the Two-Spirit Community while at the same time raising awareness that Indigenous Two-Spirit peoples continue to face intersectional racism and systemic barriers” - Cora McGuire-Cyrette ONWA CEO
Pride unites Two-Spirit communities and allies celebrating continued resilience and recognising the authenticity of self. Pride represents solidarity and resistance against discrimination and violence.
ONWA walks with Two-Spirit peoples in honour of Pride. Two-Spirit peoples have walked a long path, and, together, we will continue to walk the path forward.
For more information and media inquiries, contact:
Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager
Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)