Today, on June 21st—as we continue to commemorate National Indigenous History Month—we also take our time to recognize National Indigenous Peoples Day, an official day to reflect on the many achievements and different cultures of Indigenous Peoples.
As Associate Director of Population-Specific Programs at CBRC, I am grateful for having the unique position of working closely with our Two-Spirit programming team in supporting the important work of health promotion within Two-Spirit communities nationwide. As a settler of Hong Kong Chinese descent on Turtle Island, and specifically on Coast Salish Territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-waututh, and Squamish nations, I’ve learned it is important for all non-Indigenous folks to be engaged in these efforts, and that our role in uplifting Indigenous voices is crucial in our collective efforts towards Truth and Reconciliation.
Similar to how it may be easy, but inaccurate and all-too-convenient, to group all Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island as one singular community with common teachings and cultures, our Two-Spirit programming team have taught me that we must not make the same mistake in reducing the Two-Spirit identity to just arbitrary letters within the larger 2SLGBTQ+ acronym and community. Our programs, research, resources, and advocacy must be intentional and specific in reaching Two-Spirit communities—and while this often involves taking different approaches and leaning into historical ways of relationship-building, it will always involve the centering of Indigenous Peoples in decision-making and leadership.
Today, on behalf of CBRC, I want to recognize the hard work of our colleagues who are Indigenous and identify as queer or Two-Spirit: those of whom who are part of the Two-Spirit programming team; our Indigenous colleagues working in other departments throughout our organization; those who contribute their time and labour to CBRC as Peer Navigators or Trusted Messengers; and our Indigenous partners, Elders and Knowledge Keepers who have guided so much of the direction CBRC is heading in. Without you, the work of CBRC does not move forward.
By Darren Ho,
Associate Director of Population-specific Programs