Elder Tina Fox, who will be giving the opening prayer for Morley’s Two-Spirit Celebration Saturday, says the blessing ceremony is about reminding people who two-spirit people are and where they come from.
The Morley reserve, located about 60 kilometres west of Calgary, is part of the Stoney Nakoda nation.
Fox, from Stoney Nakoda, will be providing the prayer as part of the scheduled activities which also include a wellness walk, storytelling and drag-show performances.
“I’ll be welcoming the people,” said Fox.
“Usually when I’m asked to do this, I say prior to contact, our two-spirit people were highly regarded in the Sioux culture.”
After contact, she said Christianity played a big role in how they were viewed.
“Since churches started to rise up on reserves and impose their teachings on us, I didn’t know of any two-spirit people, no one ever talked about it.”
Fox said she feels there is more acceptance now of two-spirit people in Morley and that she hopes people receive blessings of healing and strength from her prayers.
Organizer Cleavon Abraham, also known as drag queen Argintina Hailey, who is from Wesley First Nation and identifies as two-spirit, said the third annual event is family-friendly and free to attend.
“We want people to remember that we are part of the community, and feel free to be who we are and express ourselves and be open instead of hiding amongst ourselves,” said Hailey.
“This is one day a year where they can come out and express themselves.”
Where ‘two-spirit’ term comes from
The term two-spirit was adopted in 1990 at the third annual gathering of Native American Gay and Lesbians in Manitoba.
Harlan Pruden, from Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6 territory and a two-spirit advocate, said the term became accepted because it was understood by many nations.
Pruden, who lectures and has conducted media literacy training on two-spirit people for the United Church, said two-spirit is “a made-up term as a way to organize the community.”
“It organizes us, but then it becomes a nation-specific kind of conversation.”
Pruden said each nation or language has its own name for two-spirit people in their communities.
“There is close to about 130 terms within our own language that accounted for these other genders, non-binary genders that existed before colonization,” Pruden said.
The Two-Spirit Celebration begins Saturday at noon.