A group of Indigenous two-spirit and LGBT youth gathered in Regina on Sunday to share experiences and support one another.
The talking circle was facilitated by two-spirit elder Marjorie Beaucage, who described the circle as a kind of peer support for young Indigenous people who need to talk about their gender identity.
“Young people are pretty much on their own when it comes to their sexual identity and gender identity. There’s so much homophobia still and so much judgment about lifestyles and different ways of being,” said Beaucage.
“Silence is killing people.”
Around 10 people aged 14-25 attended the talking circle on Sunday.
The event was organized in partnership with eight community organizations and was set to be held at the Heritage Community Association, until a power outage prompted them to relocate to the nearby Phoenix Residential Society.
“Right now in Regina there’s nothing that exists in terms of programming or services specifically for two-spirit people,” said Shayna Stock, executive director of the Heritage Community Association.
Stock said cities like Winnipeg have been able to address and create programming for two-spirit youth and just recently had the first ever two-spirit powwow.
“It’s important to provide a service that doesn’t exist yet,” said Stock.
One participant said they appreciated being part of a larger group and being able to listen more, instead of talking in a one-on-one setting.
The circle was held as a first step toward finding and providing additional support for Regina’s two-spirit community. Stock and Beaucage both expressed that the further development of supports needs to be two-spirit and youth directed.Stock said the Heritage Community Association has applied for funding to hold a weekly group meeting for local two-spirit youth.
“They know what they need and I really admire their bravery,” said Beaucage. “Anything I can do to support the youth, I do.”