Indigenous

Manitoba Métis Federation's new two-spirit local starts up in Winnipeg

The Manitoba Métis Federation now has an organization to represent its 2SLGBTQ citizens, after its new Two-Spirit Michif local held its first official meeting in Winnipeg last week.

Local will provide resources, representation for Métis 2SLGBTQ citizens

Nicki Ferland has been elected as the first chairperson of the Two-Spirit Michif local. (Submitted by Graeme Houssin)

The Manitoba Métis Federation now has an organization to represent its two-spirit and LGBTQ citizens, after its new Two-Spirit Michif local held its first official meeting in Winnipeg last week.

According to the MMF's website, it has over 135 locals, with each organization being a part of the federation's governance structure. Each is administered by a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a secretary-treasurer.

For the new Two-Spirit Michif local chairperson Nicki Ferland, a local means that Métis people who identify as 2SLGBTQ will have Métis-specific resources available to them.

"We just had our first meeting last week to elect a new executive and sort of get started," said Ferland.

"We have to hit the ground running, there's lots to do."

A group of 10 people began working on starting a local last year. 

Ferland said the local was started to make sure that the voices and interests of the group were a part of the decision-making processes within the MMF "and to address issues related to the political, spiritual, economic, etc. well-being of two-spirited Métis people."

Manitoba Métis Federation ministers Andrew Carrier and Anita Campbell helped officiate the first meeting of the Two Spirit Michif local. (Submitted by Graeme Houssin)

Ferland said she feels "super lucky" to have the support of the MMF in establishing a Métis local and that it will support initiatives like language programming and building community in Winnipeg.

"There's lots of interesting things happening regarding spirituality and ceremony, so we want to be able to make sure that we're providing access and opportunities to two-spirit or LGBTQ people to attend or learn more about that aspect," said Ferland.

Filling a need

The new secretary-treasurer of the local, Chantal Fiola, said an official organization for two-spirit Métis citizens has been a long time coming. 

Fiola is an assistant professor at the University of Winnipeg's Urban and Inner-City Studies program.

Métis scholar Chantal Fiola wrote Rekindling the Sacred Fire: Métis Ancestry and Anishinaabe Spirituality. (University of Winnipeg)

"There are several two-spirit Métis people that have been working in our communities for decades," said Fiola.

"Elders like Charlotte Nolin and Barbara Bruce." 

Fiola said the new organization means a great deal to her personally. She has been an active member of Winnipeg's Indigenous LGBTQ community for several years and was recently elected to the board of Two-Spirited People of Manitoba.

She said her experience with Two-Spirited People of Manitoba has been great, but she felt a need to have something specifically for Métis.

"Sometimes… Métis issues kind of fall off the table or get kind of pushed to the sidelines when discussing larger collective Indigenous issues," said Fiola.

With their first meeting done and an executive elected, the group said it is planning an event in 2020 that will bring together two-spirit Métis people from across Manitoba and across their homelands to figure out where the resource gaps are and to find out what matters to them. 

About the Author

Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He is the co-founder of Red Rising Magazine and has been an associate producer with the CBC's Indigenous unit for three years. Follow him on Twitter: @Lenardmonkman1