A documentary aimed at helping people understand what life is like for two-spirited people in Saskatchewan premiered this week in Saskatoon.

On Monday night, Marjorie Beaucage showed her film Coming In at the Frances Morrison Public Library. The elder, mentor, filmmaker and two-spirit co-ordinator for OutSaskatoon explored four stories of younger people and their struggles. ​

"I think that a lot of these youth are abandoned and the silence around sex and all those things are what kills the youth today," she said.

"It's like there's no place for them to put their pain around sexual abuse and identity and who they are."

The film looks at their lack of support, homophobia and how they find their way in the world, Beaucage said. She said sharing stories is a form of medicine, which helps people understand the lives of others.

"It's all about loving and accepting as we are."

The circle

Before the arrival of Europeans and first contact, everyone had a place in the sharing circle, said Beaucage.

Everyone had a gift and it was recognized within the confines of the community and the circle, she added. Those who balanced the principles of femininity and masculinity had two gifts, and would later come to be known as two-spirited. 

"That was a name that was given because we don't have all of the original names in all of our languages," Beaucage said. "They've been buried by colonization."

Then, the church came and its belief system was introduced and subsequently imposed. Those beliefs would define people in terms of their bodies and relationships, Beaucage said.

"Those have to be restored and reclaimed and that's what 'coming in' means," Beaucage said of the traditional values she has learned. "We're coming back into the circle and we're reclaiming our place there."

Stories and lessons

The film was screened as part of a week-long festival taking place in the city. Wîsahkêcâhk Comes to Town: Tipi Confessions will see storytelling sessions, courses on sexual health and a cabaret, among other things. 

Wîsahkêcâhk (pronounced we-sah-key-chak) is the subject of many traditional stories and is known as a trickster. The name translates from Cree to English as Bitter Spirit. Stories are traditionally only ever told during the winter months, Beaucage said.

"They teach about love and how to be in good relations in a very spiritual, kind of cosmic way."

With files from CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition