Aboriginal support group offers help to ‘two-spirit’ people

Media Outlet: CBC News
Posted: Feb 23, 2015

Support group in Sudbury for two-spirited indigenous people.

The aboriginal health centre in Sudbury is encouraging indigenous people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender to join a sharing circle.

Perry McLeod-Shabogesic, the director of traditional programming at Shkagamik-kwe health centre, said the Two Spirit Circle is open to all, including Cree, Anishnabek, and Metis people.

The term two-spirit covers those who identify at different points of the sexual identity scale.  Prior to European contact, two spirit people were seen as essential members of a diverse village, McLeod-Shabogesic said, and they have special gifts.

“One of them was this ability — this duality — that they could see from two perspectives. So they were often used in ways of counselling, bridging that difference between the male and the female perspective on things.”

So far four or five people regularly participate in the sharing circle, but McLeod-Shabogesic  said he believes there are others out there who need support.

The group offers both traditional and Western views to support lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender indigenous people.

Two-spirit people face the double challenge of racism and homophobia, he noted.

“We are talking Sudbury here. It’s not San Francisco. Some of the struggles are little heavier in a northern Ontario town for someone from the LGBT community.