The Indigenous Transgender Community and Transgender allies brainstormed a way to a better future during Aboriginal Aids Awareness Week at the 519 Community Centre on Church Street in Toronto with a series of seminars from guest speakers and workshops where most of the brainstorming was done.
Frank and open discussion targeting among other things, what is being done in AIDS Service Organizations and National organizations like CAAN national Transgender Project. That included presentations about prevention and treatment for Indigenous Peoples living with HIV, a panel discussion with Indigenous community members around issues that Indigenous Transgender people face; including stigma.
The event also featured front line community workers as special guests via Skype for a very informative question and answer session.
While in attendance guests were invited to the photo booth to create a “Hands Up For: #HIVprevention” messages for an upcoming national campaign urging anyone vulnerable to HIV to be tested to know your status and to begin early treatment if required.
A special event directed towards Native youth was held Monday, Dec. 5th, called the Sexy Health Carnival. Presented by the Native Youth Sexual Health Network.
“Two-spirit” is a neo-traditional movement that emerged in Winnipeg in 1990 during the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference,” according to an article in the Manitobian.
The term gained popularity in various cities across the country, and was gradually adopted by many urban natives experiencing any given form of so-called gender fluidity, and any contemporary native who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, transgendered or intersex could join the two-spirit community.
The movement’s goal is to reclaim some of the ancient ideas and traditions that had historically valued such individuals in their communities, who believed to be born with both male and female spirits.
“Across Canada now there are a lot of aboriginal people or people that have aboriginal ancestry who want to reconnect with their past,” explained Craig Ross, a youth director at the Montreal Native Friendship Centre who has been researching and looking at the two-spirit phenomenon.
“Two-spiritedness is an attempt to reach into the past,” he said, “but in terms of what it actually was like before, we don’t really know in a lot of cases. So it’s sort of reconstructed, and it’s sort of become its own thing.”