UFCW 401 Celebrates Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month!

In June, we celebrate the rich history and heritage, diversity and resilience of First Nations peoples. At UFCW Local 401, we undertake that celebration in the spirit of solidarity and reconciliation.

June is also Pride Month, a time for celebrating a diversity of sexualities and genders, and we are proud and delighted to mark this month as an important occasion for our Local.

There is a connecting thread between these two months that we’d like to take an opportunity to discuss here. It’s a relatively recently-coined term used in the context of Native American and First Nations cultures and beliefs: Two-Spirit.

Two-Spirit is the “2S” at the front of the updated acronym 2SLGBTIA+, and while the specific English umbrella term has only been used since the Nineties, it has its roots in centuries-old cultural traditions from across Turtle Island (the Americas).

Those varied traditions very often made room for people who embodied both masculine and feminine traits. Each culture and language had its own specific term for, and ideas about, such roles. It was very common, despite those variations, for such people to be viewed and treated with great respect. In many cases this was connected to a spiritual identity, in which people were believed to derive insight from be able to see through both male and female perspectives.

Contact with Europeans originally led to negative stereotypes and pejorative terms like berdache being applied to indigenous people in these gender roles. The umbrella term Two-Spirit was both a way of finding common ground among diverse indigenous cultures, and of reclaiming these identities from colonial language and misunderstanding.

The modern term “Two-Spirit” originated with Elder Myra Laramee and was proposed by activist Albert Macleod in 1990 as a way to refer to the Indigenous LGBTQ community. The term has widely been used this way since, but it also still refers to a distinct body of pre-colonial traditions that people today are continuing to reclaim.

This Pride Month, and this National Indigenous History Month, UFCW Local 401 urges our members and our communities to greater awareness of the rich history and contributions of Two-Spirit indigenous people. Check out this video to learn more about the meaning and context of the Two-Spirit concept:

Geo Neptune explores the history of the term “Two-Spirit” and who it pertains to. Does it mean two genders? Can anyone use it to describe themselves?

This also a reminder that UFCW 401 will be at Lethbridge Pride on June 22nd, and we’re still on the lookout for volunteers! Click here to register and join us for a fun and vibrant Pride celebration!