On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Jacqueline Fayant talks about her recent work bringing together indigenous women from Edmonton, Alberta, and the surrounding territory who identify as “two spirit.”
One of the central ways that the colonial domination of this continent has occurred since contact has been through attacks on the many different ways of doing gender and sexuality that were traditional to the many different indigenous nations of this land, and the imposition of the patriarchal and heterosexist gender and sexual order of the settler society. This has resulted, for instance, in the particularly vicious, state-enabled violence that means so many indigenous women go missing or are murdered. It also has meant that roles within these traditional ways of doing gender and sexuality that might be read into the settler categories of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, or queer have historically been attacked and erased. In the last few decades, the term “two spirit” has emerged. It serves as a pan-indigenous way of identifying in the process of recovering the specific ways of doing gender and sexuality that were traditional to different nations and in the course of navigating other queer and trans spectrum identities and communities that some (but not all) two-spirit people might relate to, and as a way to push back agains the colonial domination of indigenous bodies and lives.
Fayant is a Cree Metis woman who lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Her experience of two-spirit organizing in the city had been that there had not yet been enough opportunity for women-identified two-spirit people to come together to learn, to support each other, and to collectively engage in efforts to create change. And so she recently organized a discussion series bringing two-spirit women together to begin that work and with hopes of catalyzing more in the future. She speaks with me about the meaning of “two spirit” and about her recent organizing.
Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada through in-depth interviews that concentrate not on current events or the crisis of the moment, but on giving people involved in a broad range of social change work a chance to take a longer view as they talk about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. To learn more about the show in general, click here.
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Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.