Two-spirit powwow coming to Winnipeg Pride

For the first time in its 30-year history, a two-spirit powwow will be part of the festivities at Pride Winnipeg, one of the largest LGBT festivals in the country.

Although the definition varies, two-spirit is an umbrella term used by some Indigenous people to describe gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender members of their communities.

The powwow is being organized by staff at resource centre Sunshine House's Like That drop-in program for marginalized LGBT people on Winnipeg streets, in partnership with advocacy group Two-Spirited People of Manitoba Inc.

"I hope that we're able to have people come out and join us, allies, it's not just for two-spirit people," said powwow committee member Peetanacoot Nenakawapo.

Visibility

The powwow is set to take place at The Forks National Historic Site in downtown Winnipeg on the afternoon of May 26.

"It's been long-needed," Nenakawapo said. "[Winnipeg Pride] had minor events before but I feel like we're starting to be more visible."

In previous years, there have been several two-spirit gatherings at Pride Winnipeg, including an Indigenous art show called Two-Spirits Decolonizing Art in 2016 — the same year Gayle Pruden, a two-spirited woman, was grand marshal of the Pride Parade.

There have been several two-spirit powwows, Indigenous Pride festivals and gatherings held in recent years across North America, including one visited by Juno actor Ellen Page in 2016.

But Nenakawapo doesn't know of other Canadian Pride celebrations that feature powwows.

"We feel like we're part of the community and the community is part of us," Nenakawapo said. "So I'm glad we're moving forward with this powwow."

The organizers of the two-spirit powwow have also launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for a traditional feast and honorariums for drum groups, dancers and elders. They've already raised over $1,100 of their $10,000 goal, which they hope to reach by May 22.