NIȽ TU,O Celebrates 2SLGBTQIA+ Community 

NIȽ TU,O works to help Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer community members thrive. 

NIȽ TU,O knows community health is at its best when every community member is safe, accepted, and cared for. That’s why NIȽ TU,O is committed to providing culturally-appropriate supports to Coast Salish children and families of every gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, including Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer community members. 

Evidence suggests strict gender conformity in Indigenous communities is the result of colonization. 

The term Two-Spirit has long been used in Indigenous communities to uplift Indigenous queer relatives, who often hold sacred roles. While most Coast Salish languages do not have a word for Two-Spirit, many other Indigenous cultures do.  

Some believe the term means an individual displays both masculine and feminine qualities, while others interpret the term to describe someone with one foot in this world and the other in the spirit world. In any case, being Two-Spirit comes with important responsibilities in Indigenous culture. Two-Spirit elders are responsible for mentoring Two-Spirit youth into those sacred roles. 

Community member ŚW̱,XELOSELWET (she/her/hers) Tiffany Joseph shares she did not “see strong enforcement of the gender binary, gender roles, or heteronormativity in how [she] was raised in [her] communities and culture.”

“When I connect with our cultural leaders in the community, and they know that I’m Indigiqueer, they make sure I know that I’m accepted as I am,” Joseph says. “We have a very accepting culture and society, and that comes from our teachings.”

Joseph wants to let 2SLGBTQIA+ youth know that it is possible to find acceptance.

“There are queer allies who will respect your culture and value your safety. I’ve been happy to see the ways, big and small, that our community is showing acceptance of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer community members,” she says. 

“I want to have our own Pride parade, right down West Saanich Road, where we can be sure the people in our community can stay safe and be celebrated as their true selves,” Joseph says.

In any discussion of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, it important to acknowledge the increased police harassment experienced by trans and non-binary community members, as well as the commercialization of pride and the ways it can exclude BIPOC people. Joseph shares it’s not uncommon for Pride parades to be sponsored by corporations responsible for causing harm to Indigenous lands. 

NIȽ TU,O celebrates the Indigiqueer and Two-Spirit members of the Coast Salish community and is committed to their safety. Holistic health arises for the entire community when all are safe to live in their true identity. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the terms used throughout this article, here is some information to help:

  • 2SLGBTQIA+: Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, plus more identities.
  • BIPOC: Black Indigenous People of Color 
  • Queer: Identities that do not conform to gender norms or to heterosexuality. 
  • Heteronormativity: A worldview that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.
  • Gender variant: Gender that doesn’t fall within gender norms, examples include non-binary and transgender.
  • Indigiqueer: An Indigenous person who may be of queer sexual orientation, or who identifies within a gender gradient, may also identify as Two-Spirit. 
  • Intersex: A person is born with a combination of male and female biological traits.
  • Asexual: A person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to anyone. Asexuality is a spectrum that includes demisexuality, which is when someone must feel an emotional bond with someone before they can feel sexually attracted to a person. 
  • Pronouns: Include “she/her/hers,” “he/him/his,” “they/them,” and combinations of pronouns such as “she/they” or “he/they.”

To stay up to date on this story and others, please subscribe to our newsletter.