Waterloo raises Two-Spirit flag on campus for the first time
The Two-Spirit Pride flag and Intersex-Inclusive Progressive flag is being flown during the month of June
The Two-Spirit Pride flag and Intersex-Inclusive Progressive flag is being flown during the month of JuneBy Emily Brant Office of Indigenous Relations
For the first time on our campus, the Two-Spirit Pride flag is being flown alongside the Intersex-Inclusive Pride Progress flag, during the month of June as part of Pride Month activities. Flying the Two-Spirit Pride flag beautifully represents the intersection of National Indigenous History Month and Pride Month and signifies the University’s ongoing commitment towards indigenization across our campuses.
“We trust that by raising this flag we are signalling that the University of Waterloo stands for inclusion, belonging and acceptance,” says Melissa Star Ireland, who was recently appointed as the new director of the Office of Indigenous Relations. “Let us all come together in a supportive campus environment where 2SLGBTQQIA+ relations can thrive.”
Two-Spirit is a term that refers to an Indigenous person who identifies as having both a masculine and feminine spirit. While some use it to describe sexual or gender identity, many Indigenous folx see it as a spiritual identity and how they relate to Creation.
There is a Two-Spirit Intersex-Inclusive Pride Progress flag, but some members of the Two-Spirit community feel that it is important to celebrate Indigenous identity by flying two separate flags.
“Indigenous ways of sexual orientation and gender expression were here long before the 2SLGBTQIA+ acronym, prior to colonization, before the English words lesbian, gay, trans, bi and queer,” says Amy Smoke, Two-Spirit sessional instructor. “Personally, I think it’s important to honour the distinction and that we don’t foundationally see them as being the same.”
“While it's vital for Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer folks to have a space to embody their identities with pride, members of the broader LGBTQIA+ community must also acknowledge and respect the contextual and cultural differences of our experiences,” says Leith Bulford, a Two-Spirit student special project assistant at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre. “I think the separate Two-Spirit pride flag is one step towards this.”
Waterloo recently conducted an equity survey, which found that 26 per cent of student respondents did not identify as heterosexual or straight. While Bulford says that flying the Two-Spirit Pride flag on campus is a step in the right direction, the gesture is well overdue as there are many Indigiqueer, trans and nonbinary students on campus.
“It’s important to represent community members who are reclaiming the Indigiqueer presence,” they say. “I think that it is a good start to increasing visibility of the Two-Spirit presence on campus and encourages others to do their own research and include Indigenous identities in LGBTQIA+ discussions.”
During the month of June, Pride colours will be on display with rainbow walkways located outside the Dana Porter Library and at main campus entrances. The Two-Spirit Pride flag and the Intersex-Inclusive Pride Progress flag will be flying at campus main entrances (University Ave main gate and Columbia at Philip Street). These displays are important symbols of inclusion, and we hope they evoke a sense of belonging for Two-Spirit and LGTBQIA+ folks on campus.
On Thursday, June 29, the Office of Indigenous Relations will be hosting a talk by Ozhawa Anung Kwe /Yellow Star Woman (Teddy Syrette) on Two-Spirit and LGTBQ+ Pride. The workshop event is free to attend where all are welcome.
Ozhawa Anung Kwe/ Yellow Star Woman (Teddy Syrette): 2Spirit & LGBTQ+ Pride
Date: June 29, 2023
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Faculty of Health Expansion Building, Room 1689
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within our Office of Indigenous Relations.