First-ever two-spirit powwow set for Saskatoon

The powwow happens on Saturday in the bowl at the University of Saskatchewan. The grand entry is set to begin at noon.

Participants invited to dance freely

The two-spirit powwow this weekend at the University of Saskatchewan will be first for the city, but there have been other similar events in Canada, like the one shown above which was held in Winnipeg. (Courtesy of the University of Winnipeg Archives, Two-Spirited Collection (17.026))

It's a coming out celebration for some Indigenous dancers, as Saskatoon will have its first public two-spirit powwow this weekend at the University of Saskatchewan.

This is their right to come and dance.- Jack Saddleback 
"This is much needed and it's time for this to happen," Paulete Poitras said in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.  "It's me coming out as a two-spirited person."
Paulete Poitras will dance freely at the two-spirit powwow this weekend in Saskatoon, and she hopes many others will join her. (CBC)

A safe place

The event is organized by OUTSaskatoon, a group that works to support the LGBTQ community. Jack Saddleback is OUTSaskatoon's cultural coordinator. Saddleback said that the powwow is to create a safe space for people to dance whatever style they wish.  

"This is a space for them. This is their inherent right to be a part of these cultures," he said.

Two-spirit identity is part of many indigenous cultures. A two-spirit person identifies as both male and female and can do tasks of both roles in the community.

For Poitras, this has been a long time coming. She recalls growing up being taught skills that are traditionally male, until she was a little older, and the lessons switched to those skills that are traditionally passed along to females. 

"I feel like everybody kind of knew before I knew and when I was able to kind of come forward with who I am and identify with myself, which I was 30 at the time, it just made sense to me," she said.

Poitras said that her family has supported her since she came out as two-spirit, and so she will dance freely Saturday, and is hopeful that many others will join her.

Dance to express

Saddleback shares that desire and hopes that people who come to take part in the powwow feel free to dance in ways that are not set in gender, but in self-expression.

"We care for them, and we want them to know…that this is their right to come and dance."

The powwow happens on Saturday in the bowl at the University of Saskatchewan. The grand entry is scheduled to begin at noon.

with files from Saskatoon Morning