NWAC’s vision is that 2SLGBTQQIA people are guaranteed the same opportunity for freedom, peace and security as any other citizen of our country. We strive to achieve an environment where 2SLGBTQQIA people have their unique challenges recognized, enjoy obstacle free access to all supports and services, and feel that they can live safely and comfortably wherever they reside.
As an organization that applies a gender-based, culturally-relevant, and intersectional lens to its research, policy development, and advocacy, NWAC recognizes that Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA people are impacted by systemic discrimination. This discrimination is rooted in colonialism and racism.
Prior to colonization, Indigenous communities held distinct understandings of gender roles and sexuality. An example of this is Two-Spirit people. As coined by Myra Laramee in 1990, “Two-Spirit” is a translation of the Anishinaabemowin term niizh manidoowag, meaning literally “two spirits”. With colonization, though, came mainstream teachings of gender, sex, and sexual orientation binaries: that you can only be male/female, masculine/feminine, heterosexual/homosexual and nothing exists in between. These understandings, which dictate which gender identities are normal and which are not, has led to the marginalization of Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA individuals both within their communities and in mainstream society.
While this discrimination is rooted in colonialism and racism, it is further compounded and upheld by patriarchy and heteronormativity.
Sadly, there is a significant lack of data on these issues, but we do know that Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA individuals face disproportionate levels of violence and additional obstacles to accessing basic services such as health care, housing and employment.
In 2015, 70% of transgender youth in Canada (aged 14-25) reported sexual harassment, and 25% reported having been raped in the last year.1 Because Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA youth have multiple marginalized intersecting identities, they are impacted even further by this violence.
In Ontario, First Nations, Inuit and Métis participants in the 2010 Trans PULSE project 2 reported “high levels” of poverty (47%) and of homelessness or underhousing (34%), and were more likely to have to move due to being trans (67%). The same study also found that 61% indicated having at least one unmet health care need in the past year, and 73% had experienced violence due to their gender identity and/or expression.
NWAC is in the midst of an engagement strategy with 2SLGBTQQIA Indigenous women and gender diverse people in order to transform our organization and all of our subsequent work. Moving forward, we will create safe spaces for those women to voice their needs and perspectives to inform policy development with a focus on not retraumatizing or revictimizing.
1. Engage with communities through a culture and gender-based lens to address and end the systemic violence that impacts Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA people, and their families and communities.
2. Provide Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA people with the option and opportunity of removing themselves from abusive relationships and situations through community and network support.
3. Enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political wellbeing of Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA people.
- WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre, “WAVAW’s New Inclusion Project” (2017), para. 2. Retrieved online <http://www.wavaw.ca/wavaws-new-inclusion-project/>
- Ayden Scheim et al. “Barriers to well-being for Aboriginal gender-diverse people: Results from the Trans PULSE Project in Ontario, Canada” Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care (Vol. 6 No. 4, 2013) at pg. 108.