Hollee ‘Red Sky Woman’ George is passionate about Indigenous two-spirit visibility. Her work as a peer-support worker in the areas of housing and Indigenous justice gives her key expertise on community building and allyship.
Today, the community organizer sits on the board of Spectrum, a 2SLGBTQ+ organization in Waterloo Region that provides peer support and education tools that foster a sense of belonging in the 2SLGBTQ+ community. The following is a Q-and-A conversation between George and Cambridge Times about two-spirit visibility, community building and diversification.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO JOIN SPECTRUM’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS?
Hollee: I initially started volunteering with Spectrum’s drop-in services. I knew there was an opportunity at the board level to participate, and I said absolutely, I will most definitely go where it is that I’m needed. I wanted to be able to give that perspective. Joining the board was just an opportunity to expand my volunteering role into a more government focused leadership advisory type of role.
WHAT CHANGES ARE YOU HOPING TO SEE THE ORGANIZATION MAKE?
Hollee: Diversification, I most definitely see the need for two-spirit inclusion at the board level. It's my goal to see two-spirit inclusion at every talking table, every committee, every advisory, every board table because it's very much needed.
WHAT SUPPORT CAN WE OFFER TO TWO-SPIRIT PEOPLE IN WATERLOO REGION?
Hollee: Our personal lived experiences are an enormous support that we can provide to people. Two-spirit people can also use their lived experience to educate organizations like Spectrum on the experiences of two-spirit people. Representation and visibility at those talking tables are very necessary. That’s the value I’m bringing to Spectrum, the ability to more adequately reflect the people and the community that we serve.
HOW CAN WE AS A SOCIETY BE MORE INCLUSIVE OF INDIGENOUS TWO-SPIRIT PEOPLE?
Hollee: We need to make safe, exclusive spaces for two-spirit people, but it’s also imperative that we have safe spaces where two-spirit people and settler allies can come together to learn and share. Part of my focus is to provide those safe spaces for settler allies to really ask hard questions and have those difficult conversations. It’s about truth and reconciliation for people in the community in the settler, allied nation and two-spirit people to come together and share and break down barriers. We need to bring voice, visibility and balance into these communities.
Genelle Levy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times