Meet CBRC's Two-Spirit Program team

As part of National Indigenous History Month, CBRC’s Two-Spirit Program team wanted to showcase some of our Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous staff, who have played an integral part in advancing Two-Spirit resources and advocacy within the non-profit sector.


Jessy.png

Jessy Dame (Two-Spirit Manager)

Pronouns: he/him
Location: Unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations, Vancouver

Jessy got his start in advocacy early, when he was still in high school. “I had to fight hard against the local school district to create and increase educational materials that included queer and Indigenous communities. This is what set me on my path of advocacy work.” Since that time, he has completed both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in nursing, with a primary focus on sexual health, LGBTQ+ health, and Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous health. Jessy practices as a sexual health certified nurse at a queer-focused clinic, as well as being the Two-Spirit Program Manager at CBRC. In this role, Jessy is able to work for, and with, the Two-Spirit community to break down societal barriers and increase Two-Spirit representation.


Martin

Martin Morberg (Two-Spirit Program Coordinator)

Pronouns: he/him
Location: Unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Nations,Victoria

Martin Morberg is a Two-Spirit Northern Tutchone and Tlingit man from the remote community of Mayo, Yukon Territory. He is a member of the Na Cho Nyak Dun First Nation. “It’s my goal to empower the lives and voices of Two-Spirit and Indigenous people affected by HIV and addictions while contributing to the visibility of these communities.” Much of Martin's work and activism is rooted in community and grassroots initiatives and he acknowledges that many Indigenous leaders and community members have guided and supported him in growing into the activist he is today. He hopes to pay this knowledge and support forward to Indigenous communities and Two-Spirit people and contribute to the meaningful work and reclamation of Two-Spirit culture and identity.


Lane Bonertz

Lane Bonertz (Test Now Buddy)

Pronouns: he/him
Location: Tiohtià:ke, unceded territory of the Kanien’keha:ka (Montréal)

Lane is Blackfoot, of Piikani (Aapátohsipikáni) First Nation in southern Alberta. “My approach to life and work is informed by growing up in a rural agricultural town and recognizing the power that comes with support and collaboration within one’s community.” He has worked, volunteered, and advocated within the LGBTQ2S+ community for a number of years, and it is always a responsibility he welcomes. With a passion for languages, Lane’s desire to learn has taken him a long way from home and to many different cities, but he always finds his way back to family and friends.


Daniel Sands portrait

Daniel Sands (Peer Navigator)

Pronouns: they/them
Location: Unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Nations,Victoria

Growing up in the 80s and moving to various small towns in Alberta, Daniel always knew they didn’t fit into the rigid norms they were expected to. “While I didn’t know the terms gay and Two-Spirit as a young child, learning them later felt simultaneously terrifying and like coming home.” Many years later, at a drum circle at their local Friendship Centre, there was a song with instructions for the women to sing and drum in the middle while the men danced around them. As a Two-Spirit person, Daniel was left without instruction. “I was using a walker at the time, and wasn’t able to dance line as I could years ago—I was happy to just observe.” After the circle had finished, Daniel asked an Elder what they should’ve done as a Two-Spirit person during that song. “They said I could’ve sung, danced, both, neither, or just done my own thing. It was such an affirmation!” There hadn’t always been a clear path for Daniel to follow in life, but it was then when they realized that they had been forging their own path their whole life. It gave him/them strength to continue.


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William Flett (Peer Navigator)

Pronouns: he/him
Location: The ancestral and unceded homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking peoples

A member of the Haida Nation, William Flett identifies as an artist, volunteer, and peer to other young gay men living with HIV. “My HIV diagnosis empowered me by connecting me with my community and strengthening my connection to my roots as a Haida artist.” With the help provided by local queer community organizations, he was able to learn a lot about HIV, something that helped him grow to become a facilitator of the knowledge that once helped him. His values remain closely aligned with these organizations. William prioritizes science-based and innovative knowledge, and works to make this knowledge inclusive and accessible in order to foster a deep understanding. In his spare time, he enjoys playing games, and catching up on the hundreds of YouTube channels he has found himself subscribed to.


Portrait of Rocky James

Rocky James (Coast Salish Emissary)

Pronouns: he/him
Location: Unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations, Vancouver

Rocky is the Coast Salish Two-Spirit Emissary for CBRC. He is from the Penelakut Tribes, which are located on northern Galiano Island, Penelakut Island, and Tent Island, with a reserve located on Vancouver Island near Crofton. The Penelakut Tribes are part of the Coast Salish Nation. Rocky has a Bachelor of Arts in First Nations Studies, and a Master of Arts in Human and Social Development (Studies in Policy and Practice). “My work involves localizing the calls to action from the Canada Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Calls to Justice from the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Rocky is also facilitating an oral histories project with Two-Spirit elders. The project serves as the traditional Indigenous foundation for constructing the CBRC Two-Spirit Longhouse, a forum for Two-Spirit people to discuss issues relating to their well-being and development.


Portrait of Harlan Pruden

Harlan Pruden (Mentor and Knowledge Keeper)

Pronouns: he/him
Location: Unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations, Vancouver

Harlan (nēhiyo/First Nations Cree Nation) works with and for the Two-Spirit community locally and nationally. Currently, he is the Indigenous Knowledge Translation Lead at Chee Mamuk, an Indigenous health program at British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, and the co-founder of the Two-Spirit Dry Lab, Turtle Island’s first research group/lab that exclusively focuses on Two-Spirit people, communities and/or experiences. Harlan is also Managing Editor of TwoSpiritJournal.com and an advisory member for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Gender and Health. Before relocating to Vancouver in 2015, he was co-founder and a director of the NorthEast Two-Spirit Society (a community-based organization in NYC) and was a President Obama appointee to the US Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). “I provided advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health & Human Services and the White House. In December 2018, I was (happily) fired/dismissed from PACHA by Mr. Trump via Fedex.”


Portrait of Zailee Beauchamp

Zailee Beauchamp (Peer Researcher)

Pronouns: she/her/they/them
Location: Traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas, located on land covered by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum agreement

Zailee recently started her career after graduating from McMaster University with a degree in Social Psychology. “Volunteering on-campus and around the city inspired me to strive towards working directly with the community, namely at cultural events.” In her free time, she is a writer and illustrator who creates her own original stories, which mainly focus on the nuances of society at large.


Portrait of Matthew Fisher

Matthew B. Fischer (Peer Researcher)

Pronouns: he/him
Location: Unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations, Vancouver

Matthew Fischer is a proud, Two-Spirit Mi’kmaq member of the Qualipu First Nation in Newfoundland. He has traveled extensively within Canada and around the world. He has spent time in most of the provinces and two territories before finally making what is now known as Vancouver his home (he’s lived there for the past 30 years). Matthew has a very responsible, expressive, inspirational and friendly personality. Expression comes to him naturally and he is rarely at a loss for words. “In fact, I often have to curb an over-active tongue!” Matthew has been active in unions, using his voice and skills for those who face injustices in the workplace. He now works as a Peer Researcher in the Two-Spirit Dry Lab, conducting health research involving Two-Spirit people in Indigenous communities. He spends his free time learning about his culture that was denied to him for 40 years. He enjoys gardening, biking, games and, yes, long walks on the beach wishing for world peace.

Next month, we will feature the members of CBRC’s research team.

Disponible en français.

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About CBRC

Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) promotes the health of gay, bi, trans, Two-Spirit, and queer men (GBT2Q) through research and intervention development.
Meet CBRC's Two-Spirit Program Team
Meet CBRC's Two-Spirit Program team
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