Out on the Land reconnects two-spirit, transgender campers with traditional knowledge

Marjorie Beaucage says there are many challenges for two spirit and transgender Indigenous people in Saskatchewan, but it wasn't always the case.

Sweats, fishing, beading, basket-making among activities at Sask. camp

About 15 people gathered near Pine River, Sask. for the Out on the Land camp for two spirit and transgender people. (Submitted )

Marjorie Beaucage says there are many challenges for two-spirit and transgender people in Saskatchewan.

Some young people feel unwelcome in rural communities and move to the city, only to find themselves homeless and unsupported.   

But Beaucage said there wasn't always discrimination against two-spirit people.

"We were originally called gifted ones, sacred beings, and we have gifts to help to heal the people and to balance the masculine and feminine energies and special roles in ceremonies and life," she said. 
Marjorie Beaucage says she would also like to see young two spirit people have a place in Indigenous ceremony again. (Joelle Seal/CBC)

"But that hasn't been restored ... it was buried along with all the other — colonial trash — I call it."

Beaucage organized last weekend's Out on the Land camp, which brings together two-spirit and transgender people to learn from traditional knowledge-keepers.

The group of about 15 people picked medicines, went out on the river to catch their lunch, participated in sweats, learned beading skills and collected birch bark to make baskets.

About 10 adults and helpers were there to lead the camp near Pine River, Sask., more than 470 kilometres north of Saskatoon. Overall, campers ranged in age from 16 to 70 years old.

Beaucage said the traditional knowledge-keepers helped participants to reconnect with who they are through ceremony and through the land.

"They help for people to know what the land has for us and to teach us the medicines," she said.

"How to use them, how to respect what's around us and to conduct the ceremonies that we need to heal ourselves and to be well."

The event doubled in size in its second year, and Beaucage expects it will grow again in 2018.

With files from CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition