'She's a stronger me': two-spirited Fort McMurray businessman to be profiled in documentary

For years Indigenous entrepreneur Massey Whiteknife has lived two lives. Now he intends to live for a year as his alter ego Iceis Rain.

'Queen of the Oilsands' to document Massey Whiteknife's life as two-spirited man

Massey Whiteknife from the Mikisew Cree First Nation says his alter-ego Iceis Rain has helped him become a stronger person. (Supplied)

For years Massey Whiteknife felt shattered, as though his personality was split in two.

Years of childhood abuse and trauma had left him feeling broken, until he decided to embrace his other side — a fiery woman, named Iceis.

Whiteknife, from Mikisew Cree First Nation, is two-spirited, a traditional Indigenous term describing gay, lesbian and transgender people.

"When I put  the hair on, I transition fully into Iceis. Iceis takes over and I no longer exist," Whiteknife said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"Creating her helped me to just take a break out of my head, from the abuse and the bullying and the trauma that I went through, because she never had that.

"She's never been molested. She's never been bullied. She's a stronger me."

Award-winning entrepreneur

During the day, dressed in suit and tie, he manages his own safety company in Fort McMurray called Iceis Safety, which employs fellow Indigenous people. He is recognized as an award-winning entrepreneur operating a multi-million dollar business.

But when he dons a wig and heels and paints his face, he transforms into alter ego Iceis Rain.
As Iceis Rain, Massey has performed across the province, recorded a rock album and become an anti-bullying advocate. (Karen Hill)

Whiteknife said his alter ego is a coping mechanism, created when he was diagnosed with dissociative post-traumatic stress disorder.

He says Iceis is a completely separate entity, with her owns thoughts and desires.

"For me, I embrace my femininity and I embrace my masculinity and I just let one of my spirits out.

"Iceis Rain, she does her own thing. She's a recording artist and I'm a businessman.

"We have two very different lives … but together her and I exist in one body and we're on a journey to figure out what's going on in our future."

As Iceisis, Whiteknife has performed on stages across the province, recorded a rock album and become an anti-bullying advocate.  

She was a featured performer in the documentary Oil Sands Karaoke, and has released her first music video, the Queen.

'I'm going to go on this journey'

Whiteknife's two personalities have lived separate lives, until now.

He is planning to live as Iceis Rain for an entire year, day and night, while running the business and pursuing a music career, all the while being documented for a new series in development called Queen of the Oilsands.

Although he worries about how the change might affect his ability to take control in the boardroom and deal with clients, he's not afraid to put his life under the spotlight.

"This year, after the wildfire, my offices had flooded. I got in a really bad accident and I just said this is time for me to change.

"The Creator has given me a second chance and it's an opportunity to figure out what makes me happy," he said.

"I'm going to go on this journey to figure out who I am."