Indigenous LGBTQ2 people and advocates gathered outside the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg to speak out on how federal departments and crown corporations are leaving their community out of key initiatives.
Last week in Toronto, the federal government unveiled a new one dollar coin that pays tribute to Parliament’s passing of legislation that initiated the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada in 1969.
“I was surprised to learn about the launch in Toronto, because I wasn’t aware of any two-spirit people who had been involved in designing the coin, and I was unsure if any two-spirit representatives had been invited to the unveiling,” says Albert McLeod, co-director of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba Inc.
However, in an e-mail from the Director of Communications for the Royal Canadian Mint, it states, “The Royal Canadian Mint was pleased to have two-spirited Elder Andre Morrisseau at the event.”
The Canadian Museum of Human Rights organized a program with the Canadian Mint, and invited The Rainbow Resource Centre, and Pride Winnipeg, to take part in an event following last week’s unveiling.
However, there was no Indigenous representation invited.
“I’m disappointed to learn about the planned coin exchange with two Crown corporations and LGBTQ representatives that do not include two-spirit people,” says McLeod.
“It makes us feel like we are not the right kind of gay, that we had no role in Canada’s history or the LGBTQ rights movement.”
Canadian Museum of Human Rights spokesperson Maureen Fitzhenry says the Two Spirited People of Manitoba Inc., raised concerns about the planned program.
“They didn’t feel the event represented enough of the diverse community,” she said.
“We reviewed their concerns and in the end we had to agree. It wasn’t sufficiently diverse to just have those two representations speaking – we should have included the two-spirit community and other,” adds Fitzhenry.
She explains it wasn’t their intention to exclude anyone, but to have a public dialogue about the historical and current struggles of people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identities.
In November 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the House of Commons for decades of systematic oppression and rejection they faced.
“It’s been a year and a half after the apology, these kind of exclusions shouldn’t be happening,” said McLeod.
“People should be briefed and have protocols in place that acknowledge two-spirit people.”
He hopes this gathering will be a message to other departments, corporations, and organizations.
“We kind of get the same treatment of being excluded – not just from non-Indigenous organizations, but from Indigenous ones as well,” said McLeod.
“Everyone needs to know Indigenous people are LGBTQ as well and we’re part of the community, and all federal departments and crown corporations should reflect that.”