Toronto – August 9, 2023 – Today, we commemorate the International Day of The World’s Indigenous peoples. On this day we raise awareness of Indigenous peoples and their contributions on a global scale. The 2023 theme is Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination.
This year UFCW Outreach and UFCW Canada are raising awareness about Two Spirit identities by uplifting the good work done by community organizations defending the rights of Two Spirit and gender diverse persons across the US and Canada. In doing so, we hold union solidarity with Two Spirit UFCW members across the US and Canada.
UFCW’s own Raven Morningstar shares what being Two Spirit means and shares her story below.
Learn more about what Two-Spirit means and access resources below:
“Two-Spirit” is a term used within some Indigenous communities, encompassing cultural, spiritual, sexual and gender identity. The term reflects complex Indigenous understandings of gender roles, spirituality, and the long history of sexual and gender diversity in Indigenous cultures. Individual terms and roles for Two-Spirit people are specific to each nation.
The word "Two-Spirit" was created in the early 1990s, by a group of Two-Spirit community members and leaders. Due to its cultural, spiritual, and historical context, the concept of "Two-Spirit" is to be used only by Indigenous people. However, not all Indigenous people who hold diverse sexual and gender identities consider themselves Two-Spirit, many identify themselves as LGBTQ+.
Learn more at Trans Care BC.
The Impact of Colonization
The colonization process attempted to erase Indigenous peoples’ inherent right to self-determination.
Indigenous peoples are resilient and continue to resist a system of laws and practices that was never built by or for them.Two-spirit people are reclaiming their inherent rights across the US and Canada.
Find out more about the history and impact of colonization on Two Spirit identities by watching the video “Two Spirits, One Voice” released by Egale Human Rights Trust
Prevalence of Violence
Colonial violence and racism disproportionately increase the experience of abuse amongst Two-Spirit and gender minority communities.
Two spirit, gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexual minority people in Canada were almost three times more likely than heterosexual Canadians to report that they had been physically or sexually assaulted in the previous 12 months in 2018 and more than twice as likely to report having been violently victimized since the age of 15.
The 2015 US Transgender Survey, the largest survey focused on the trans community, found that 65% of the 319 respondents who identified as American Indian or Alaska Native reported being sexually assaulted. It also found 60% were denied equal treatment, verbally harassed and/or physically attacked in the past year.
Allyship is a process of standing up for and with people who experience marginalization. An ally is someone who believes in the dignity and respect of all people and takes action by supporting and/or advocating with groups experiencing social injustice.
An ally does not identify as a member of the group they are supporting. For example, a heterosexual person can act as an ally for gay people and communities and a cisgender lesbian can act as an ally for trans people and communities.
Allyship is a never-ending process of education and continual learning about institutions that continue to isolate, stigmatize, and discriminate against racially diverse, Indigenous, queer, trans and gender diverse people.
Find out more by checking out the Allyship and Ambassador Guide created by Egale Human Rights Trust.