What you need to know (and what you don’t need to know) about the term two-spirit

About This Talk

This event was presented by Centre Talks.

The term ‘two-spirit’ holds many diverse meanings for Indigenous LGBTQ+ communities, yet it is frequently misunderstood and misappropriated. This talk explores the implications of recent research with two-spirit, trans and queer Indigenous young people in Toronto for researchers and service providers. It will explore what you need to know about two-spirit communities, what you don’t need to know, and why there’s a difference.

About the Speaker

Marie Laing is a queer Kanyen’kehá:ka scholar of mixed Haudenosaunee and Irish/Scottish/South African settler ancestry. Her family comes from Six Nations of the Grand River, and she belongs to the turtle clan. Marie holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Sexual Diversity Studies from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts in Social Justice Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Her upcoming book, under contract to Routledge, investigates the relationships that young trans, queer and two-spirit Indigenous people in Toronto have with the term two-spirit. Marie was a 2018 recipient of the University of Toronto International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Award. She currently works as a Research Coordinator at Well Living House, and she is a youth leader with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network.

A note on Centre Talks, our relationship to the health care system, and our next steps

Racism is pervasive in health care systems, public health and research in Canada. Unity Health Toronto is no exception.

For those of us working in hospitals in Toronto, it can be difficult and risky to challenge racist moments, processes and policies, many of which are built-in to health care. We are all positioned differently when it comes to challenging our institutions. Our job positions may cushion us or produce precarity—for example, physicians may have additional protection. Racist hierachies protect some of us, and produce precarity for others.

Centre Talks struggles with these dynamics, and works to shed light on them at the same time. Our decisions as a committee are based on the understanding that health care institutions must address:

  • Racist policies and practices in research and health care, particularly policies and practices that are anti-Indigenous and anti-Black.
  • The ways that white populations, patients, clinicians and staff are prioritized in research and health care.

Finally, is it important that we do not understand anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism as mutually exclusive. This is harmful to Black Indigenous two-spirit, trans and queer people of Turtle Island.

Please note: while we remain implicated in the racism that is pervasive in research and clinical practice, we have considerable independence as a group. Our talks do not necessarily reflect the values or practices of Unity Health Toronto, of hospitals generally, or the health care system. We are working to move our talks online. Some of our upcoming talks will be available to specific audiences, others will be released to the public. Please stay tuned, and thank you for sharing your time with us!

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August 17, 2020  - August 18, 2020

Email CentreList@smh.ca for the event link