Indigenous·Profile

Two-spirit Anishinaabe dancer called to dance powwow

For Gayle Pruden, putting on her regalia and dancing is a ritual she's being doing for more than 14 years.

'At first I was really scared ... but after all these years I feel so at home'

We followed along as Gayle Pruden, a two-spirit Anishinaabe dancer originally from Pinaymootang First Nation, got ready to dance in Winnipeg's two-spirit powwow. 1:47

Gayle Pruden puts on her beaded hair ties and necklace as she gets ready to dance in Winnipeg's 2nd annual two-spirit powwow.

Putting on her regalia and dancing is a ritual she's being doing for more than 14 years but this was the first time she was attending a two-spirit powwow in her home city of Winnipeg.

"Here it's really accepting; people don't judge you for who you are, your gender," said Pruden. 

"It's the way you carry yourself and the sacredness you carry."

Gayle Pruden fixes her hair as she gets ready for the two-spirit powwow in Winnipeg. (Jonathan Ventura/CBC)

Pruden said she dances because she was called to dance. After having a reoccurring dream of herself in a shiny dress, she approached an elder for answers to her dreams. The elder told her that the Creator was calling her to dance powwow. It was after those dreams that Gayle was danced into her first powwow.

"At first I was really scared and I didn't know what I was doing, but after all these years I feel so at home. I feel really comfortable."  

As a two-spirit person, Pruden said she is comfortable with the special role she plays in her community.

"It completes that circle of male and female," she said.

Being two-spirit means Pruden embraces both male and female spirits, an identity her community and family growing up in Pinaymootang, Man., have always supported. It's the same support she still feels when attending ceremony and powwows across North America.

Gayle Pruden had dreams that led her to dance powwow.

However, Pruden understands that strong support isn't a reality for all people who identify as two-spirit.

"A lot of two-spirit people are shunned by their family, which isn't right," she said.

"They were put here for a reason, so I don't know why it has to be so hard for them to accept people for who they are."  

That's why, when she sees other two-spirit people, she invites them to dance in the circle and share in the healing she gets from participating in ceremonies and traditions.

Pruden said she is excited to attend powwows and ceremonies across North America this summer, as she's done for years, including the upcoming 31st annual international two-spirit gathering happening Aug. 3-6, at Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre in Beausejour, Man.