Submitted by: Adam Gauthier

ʔaǰɛčxʷʊt (Hello, greetings) Adam Gauthier nən (this is). I was born in a small town called Powell River and grew up on-reserve until I relocated at age nineteen to an urban setting. On my maternal side I am Coast Salish from the Tla’amin Nation and my paternal side is Cree from the Saulteau First Nation (Moberly Lake) along with Métis ancestry from Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta.

Since I was brought into this world, I was guided by family teachings and knowledge that has been embedded into my family since time immemorial. I was always proud of who I was as a young person living in a rural community and surrounded by kinship. When I transitioned into mainstream education off-reserve in grade one, this is when the challenges and prejudiced attitudes began to influence my character. Upon meeting new classmates one is typically excited to create new friendships; in my case it was learning how to defend myself and protect my culture, especially with being (just) gay at the time. This was an annual challenge as I progressed all throughout middle and into high school where the mindsets were very shallow and ignorant. One of the most hurtful rumours I experienced in my secondary institution was that I had undergone a sex change and didn’t tell anyone. This hit pretty hard as this was the deepest discrimination I faced yet, and it caused me to revert into trying to be more of just my born-gender before I realized what 2 Spirit fully meant.

From a young age I played soccer and was sometimes described as a player who could perform well on the field. While this brought me some respect, I was still traumatized by derogatory language directed at me on the field and locker room. It was harder to navigate being in situations where I was divided from peers on the basis of sex. Being in masculine or cis-gendered environments was more targeting because I naturally have a higher pitched voice. This kept me from speaking or voicing anything; from communicating, drumming & singing, and during large public settings. There were many times where I tried alternative routes just to continue to try to be myself freely in society. This included taking a semester abroad in Germany where I immersed myself into another country’s lifestyle. While I was still singled out for being openly gay, being anything, such as 2 Spirit, at that time was one less thing I didn’t have to explain with anyone. Once I returned from Germany and carried on to graduate grade twelve, I quickly realized that who I am was never the problem – it was the people who misunderstood and are uneducated on Indigenous culture.

When I relocated to Victoria to pursue an education, I was asked if I was 2 Spirit by Indigenous counterparts. At first my answer was ‘I don’t know,’ based on my complicated time in Powell River. When I asked my Uncle Evan, when I became familiar with the term, it was confirmed to me that it truly was set in stone that it’s who I have always been. As someone who has an Uncle who is 2 Spirit, this really helped me remember that gender and homophobia is a colonial way of being, and thinking. I have it as a keepsake how my Uncle has always persevered, and made himself into someone that is successful with his path as a 2 Spirit person. This really uplifts me daily, and inspires me to be a strong individual who shall always carry himself high and be proud of his sacred identity. My Uncle has shared with me many teachings, such as our role in our family and communities, the energies of both spirits, and how we have two parts to our bodies that exemplify our strengths that we need to understand. Now being twenty-six, I embrace my 2 Spirit nature and what it means. I find that we have a responsibility to really utilize our influence and depth to fulfill balance in all forms. When we do this, our communities benefit from feeling both.

Now when I walk and present myself in any environment, I am filled with humility to be a 2-spirit person who went on to graduate from University and has plans to do a Masters. This really speaks to the resilience of not only Indigenous people but our 2 Spirit population. I feel that my ability to bridge and attach my 2 Spirit being shows all capabilities while hopefully reminding anyone else that our 2 Spirit stories and presence still exist. I bring this to ceremonies, culture, and traditions. I have started a Drum Group with a fellow person who is in the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, and we really honed in on our identities while generating a name. The name is something that we believe can be used amongst the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community which is Sharing Teachings Amongst Relations (STAR) and stands for creating a welcoming, inclusive and reconciliation practices for all. STAR is meant for everybody since no matter where we ancestrally come from or stand physically, we can look up at the stars and it’s a shared territory amongst everyone. We will be passing around a keychain with two beaded eagle feathers for those to hold with care and it will be a tool to showcase multi-coloured symbols if they want to hold male, female or 2-Spirit (hold onto both). Hopefully everyone can feel comfortable practicing this and feel empowered.

čɛčɛhaθɛč (I thank/honour you)
Pishapmishko (take care)