In this video, Alex’s alter ego Justin Toodeep explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them personally as well as the broader 2SLGBTQIA+ community with data from the Summit and CBRC’s Sex Now Survey.
About the Creator:
Alex Saunders (they/them) – Saint John, New Brunswick
You might know Alex Saunders better by their drag king alter ego, Justin Toodeep. As a creator, Alex likes to create performances and videos that both teach and entertain with a focus on 2SLGBTQIA+ issues. As someone who was assigned female at birth (AFAB), Alex has a strong feminist streak and through Justin Toodeep has sought AFAB performer equality, partly through founding the Haus of Toodeep. Alex’s work is getting noticed! They were awarded Atlantic Canada's Drag Entertainer of the Year 2020.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex has made the transition to virtual performances (highlighted in their video below). They are a one-person production house, creating their own costumes, mixing their own music, filming, editing, and adding visual effects.
Alex celebrates the joy of learning and educating simultaneously. They enjoy learning about the challenges others face while also championing the their own causes, including battling bisexual erasure. As someone in a more rural province, Alex knows there are many obstacles to overcome and looks forward to helping the community face those and conquer those challenges with entertainment and education.
Vagine Accesses Information
“Conversation is a resource I use when accessing information. While emailing is useful, I find it challenging to express tone without sound. Through more personal interactions such as over the phone, tone can convey so many feelings such as vulnerability, fear, and curiosity. From my own experiences, tone has helped me navigate interactions with intimacy and honesty in situations where words alone are not enough.”
Arjun Lal explores our relationship to substance use and information. They are interested in the ease to which we are able to access information on other consumables through conversation. The ability to gain information and insight from others on something as basic as food is sharply contrasted with the shroud of mystery that surrounds substance use.
Click here to watch to Vagine Accesses Information
About the Creator:
Arjun Lal (he/they him/them) – Halifax, Nova Scotia
Arjun Lal is a queer Interdisciplinary artist from Indian diaspora. Lal creates both visual and performance work, often inspired by conflict, as a form of healing. “Art for me is a tool for positive change”.
Lal’s alter-ego, Vagine, has created a safe online space for self expression. “Vagine allows me to present parts of myself that are otherwise censored to fit in heteronormative spaces and audiences. Most spaces and audiences are not welcoming to queer content so Lal takes the time to create queer space through his work.
Lal seeks to continuously learn about contemporary 2SLGBTQIA+ culture. He joined the CBRC creators to learn and inform future projects.
Follow Arjun on Instagram (Arjun and Vagine), and on YouTube.
Upon being connected with the Summit Rapporteur Creators program through an email connection, Gabe was able to attend a number of different panels and plenaries throughout the duration of the Summit that were meaningful to them. In particular, attending the “Resistance and Resilience Through a Two-Spirit Longhouse'' and “Promoting Two-Spirit Health and Wellbeing: A Conversation with Two-Spirit Youth Leaders” opening plenaries was a life changing experience for them as they had previously known very little about West Coast Two-Spirit communities and teachings. Now that they reside in the Prairies, Gabe deeply appreciated the opportunity to learn more about West Coast Elders and Two-Spirit teachings. Participating in the Summit empowered Gabe to share the information they had learned with their followers on the social media platform Tik Tok. Gabe utilizes Tik Tok as an educational space and thought it was a great opportunity to share Two-Spirit community resources and information about sexually-transmitted and blood-borne infections prevention as a response to what they learned at the Summit. Overall, Gabe really appreciated the diversity of information about the community, mental, sexual, and physical health of 2SLGBTQ+ people presented at the Summit.
About the Creator
Gabe Calderon (they/them) - Edmonton, Alberta
Gabe Calderon (they/them) is nihz-manidowag (2 spirit) Anishnaabe, L'nu and mixed white (French and Scottish). They originate from Kitchi-sipi and currently thrive in Treaty 6 - Amiskwacîwâskahikan as the current Mr International Two-Spirit. Gabe is a poet, author and an educator. They like to make workshops on Two-Spirit, decolonization and anti-oppression and apply those topics to their work and Tik Toks. Gabe is the Treasurer for the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society, and with a Bachelors in Social Work, a diploma in Addictions and a diploma in Herbology, they work as an educator and frontline worker from an anti-oppressive lense with over 12 years of workshop experience. Gabe is a published author and poet, receiving several awards from Prairie Fire & Historica Canada in conjunction with the Governor General’s Awards for Indigenous Arts and Stories and is the 2nd place champion of the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. The creative and activist mediums they employ include Tik Tok, powerpoint presentations and online workshops, slam poetry, written and verbal/performative storytelling, and traditional Indigenous storytelling.
Click here to visit Gabe's website and follow them on Instagram and TikTok.
In this original piece of music, Geordy reflects on the importance of self-care and self-love.
Click here to watch Love Yourself
Two Spirit in the lens of Mi’kmaw Culture and Traditions
Geordy describes this video, “What does it mean to be Two Spirit in the lens of Mi’kmaw Culture and Traditions? Special thanks to all our Elders who share with us their wisdom and gave me the opportunity to be able to share their wisdom with you all. Msit No’kmaq”
Click here to watch Two Spirit in the lens of Mi’kmaw Culture and Traditions
About the Creator:
Geordy Marshall (he/him) - Eskasoni, Nova Scotia
Geordy Marshall is a Mi’kmaq community leader in Eskasoni. As a member of the Bear Clan, he strives to spread love and good medicine with his art. Geordy first became involved with the Community-Based Research Centre when he participated in Totally Outright (hosted by the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia).He is a musician and drag performer (check out Regina Fierce) where he embraces and celebrates his Two-Spirit identity. Geordy is the executive director of Pride Eskasoni and annual Pride Week in Eskasoni First Nation.
Geordy enjoyed his first time at the CBRC Summit and found it very informative. He had a special interest in the various Two-Spirit presentations and attended as many as he could. The content can inform his work in the community and as a creator. Geordy knows the challenges of access - living in a rural area, high speed internet is not always consistent available and online spaces sometimes are out of reach.
How does Geordy engage his audience? He seeks to entertain and inform. Geordy knows learning can be fun - even if it’s not always traditionally presented that way. He strives to engage his audience with storytelling and creativity while delivering key messages.
Follow him on Instagram.
After being recommended to participate in the Summit Rapporteur Creators program by a mutual friend, Ladonna Cree was able to attend the opening plenary of the Summit titled “Resistance and Resilience Through a Two-Spirit Longhouse” featuring the teachings of Bill White and Florence James. Through the teachings offered by Bill and Florence, Ladonna Cree was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are many similar beliefs and values among Indigenous communities in Canada. Ladonna Cree was reminded of the Elders she had engaged with in Alberta, and was excited to discover a common sense of kindness and teachings among Indigenous communities in Canada. From Ladonna Cree's perspective, the inclusion of Indigenous people in the Summit felt genuine and real. The opening plenary set the tone to engage and learn from Bill and Florence’s teachings. After attending the Summit, Ladonna Cree was inspired to create a drag performance that represented her journey of self-acceptance and reclamation of her lost cultural identity. As a Sixties Scoop survivor, Ladonna Cree shares her experiences of having her Indigenous and Two-Spirit identities erased through being assimilated to western understandings of gender and culture as a child. Her video captures her lifelong journey to reclaim her cultural and gender identity through drag performance, and the role that sobriety has played in her approach to drag. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how she performs drag, leading to many new and exciting creative outlets and practices for Ladonna Cree. The video performance represents a journey from being a man to entering into drag and embracing all of the facets of her identity. Now when Ladonna Cree performs, she performs as herself rather than as a persona or character. Ladonna Cree is looking forward to continuing to express herself through drag and to find connections among Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ communities.
About the Creator
Ladonna Cree (She/Her) - Edmonton, Alberta
Ladonna Cree (She/Her) is a proud 2spirited Cree from Treaty 6 Montreal Lake First Nations in Saskatchewan. She has been following the Red Road since October, 2012. She has been a Drag Queen for the past 30 years with numerous accolades from pageants and charity work.
She presently has a career as a peer support worker for Alberta Health Services. She is the Kokum of the local “Indigi-Queenz of Beaver Hills Hauz”. Additionally, she volunteers her time with homeless connect, Salvation Army’s Kettle Drive and fundraising efforts through drag performances. The highlight of her life is being a proud parent.
Follow them on YouTube.
Upon hearing about the Summit Rapporteur Creators program through a mutual friend on Facebook, Luca was able to attend the opening plenary of the Summit titled “Resistance and Resilience Through a Two-Spirit Longhouse'' featuring the teachings of Bill White and Florence James. Luca appreciated that the Summit opened with storytelling and teachings that set the tone of the conference and highlighted the importance of community and culture. The Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ communities coming together to learn about each other through kindness and empathy deeply inspired Luca and the painting they created. The theme of reflection stood out to Luca, especially when they learned about new topics like HIV self-testing and how it will impact the undiagnosed and other community members who do not have regular access to testing services. Taking what they learned from the conference, they named their painting “Reflection.”
Luca explains that the image is comprised of empty space and a genderless individual sitting and reflecting. The intention behind this was for viewers to get lost in the painting and find their own meaning within it. The emotions that are elicited from viewing the painting are meant to be different for everyone, similar to how the conference speaks to a number of communities and issues. Luca wanted to represent how the 2SLGBTQ+ community can take up space in a positive way through taking back our power and belonging in the world. As the summit came to a close, Luca valued the new connections they had made as it was very meaningful to feel connected to the community again despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through being connected, Luca feels empowered to help build connection within and beyond their communities in Winnipeg. After participating in the Summit Rapporteur Creators program, Luca feels that the program has benefited them personally through connecting them with their own heritage and culture and is looking forward to attending in-person in the near future.
About the Creator
Luca Roma Andrei Gheorghica (they, them) - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Buna Ziua, my name is Luca Roma Andrei Gheorghica. I am genderqueer. I was born in Bucharest, Romania and adopted at age 3.5 years into a Canadian family. I'm learning my culture and discovering my Romani roots. I’m now 33 years old. I started public speaking at age 10 and from there I learned that public speaking is a deep passion of mine. I love to create art whether that be as a drag king to painting to leading workshops to writing speeches. I was diagnosed with an eating disorder which is now manifested into schizophrenia with complex PTSD and DID (dissociative identity disorder) at the young age of 13. I’m now an advocate for mental health illness and was the spokesperson for United Way of Winnipeg. I am also now volunteering with the University of Manitoba through PACA (Poverty Awareness and Community Action). I help facilitate workshops leading / teaching students the importance of poverty and how to change poverty in Winnipeg. I am also part of an amazing drop-in program at Sunshine House Winnipeg who I now call my queer family. Some of the topics I speak on include gender equality, gender pronouns and the importance of pronouns, lived experiences as queer people and mental health. When I speak, I speak for those who feel they have no voice or community . I speak for those who are no longer with us and speak on behalf of queer and transgender health. Communication is key; without communication we have no CommUnity.