Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation’s first Pride Week celebrates roles once sacred in Indigenous communities

Prairie Satisfaction is a collection by Native Journalism Initiative reporter Julia Peterson that celebrates queer life in rural Saskatchewan. 

Elders, college students and college employees drummed and sang an honour track as two flags were raised above Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation on Monday morning: the First Nation’s flag and, for the primary time ever, the two-spirit Satisfaction flag.

For Ahtahkakoop Satisfaction committee member Sheldon Gaetz, who lives on the First Nation along with his husband, watching the flags go up in tandem was a shifting expertise.

“We began off with a pipe ceremony, after which we did the flag elevating on the faculty, which was stunning,” stated Gaetz. “It was very nice, having that spirituality with First Nations tradition and the LGBTQ2S+ motion collectively.

“I do know there have been group members who have been so proud to see the flag raised.”

The flag-raising was the beginning of Ahtahkakoop’s first-ever Satisfaction Week and was adopted by a vibrant Spirit Day. Later within the week, the Satisfaction committee broadcast instructional messages on the radio and social media, organized a Drag Queen Bingo evening and made stacks of posters.

Gaetz says the keenness for all these occasions has been heartening to see.

“You see Satisfaction everywhere, and so it is good to have it right here, in the neighborhood,” he stated.

Fellow Satisfaction committee member Alex Powalinsky says there has already been an “superb” response.

“For the those who we have spoken to, and the individuals who have been celebrating, they are saying it is giving them the area to breathe for the primary time and say ‘wait, it could be OK for me to simply be who I’m,'” stated Powalinsky.

“There are lots of people who everybody is aware of are below the LGBTQ2S+ umbrella — but it surely’s sort of a factor the place that is not likely spoken about or acknowledged. They’re simply there, they exist, and we proceed to go on with the established order.

“This is a chance for them to see that folks do see them and acknowledge them, so it is simply been actually therapeutic.”

At a poster-making session on Wednesday afternoon, the convention room on the well being centre was stuffed with smiles, laughter and decided objective — and plenty of glitter — as individuals made indicators to hold within the Satisfaction parade on Friday afternoon.

Across the desk, Danielle Meiklejohn was including pompoms to her celebratory poster studying “love being a Fruit Loop in a world stuffed with Cheerios.”

Tesiyna Little put the ending touches on her message, which gives a reminder that “it takes no compromise to provide individuals their rights.”

Little says this 12 months’s Satisfaction Week has been an thrilling milestone for the First Nation.

“It is actually superior to have all people collectively, celebrating,” she stated. “It is a large step for the group to help everybody — and I imply everybody.”

Ruth Ahenakew stated she was making a poster so individuals rising up on the First Nation would know they’re welcomed and cherished right here, precisely as they’re.

“No person wants to go away our group to be themselves,” she stated.

Many in attendance have been mother and father, making posters to indicate their love and help for his or her LGBTQ2S+ youngsters.

“We’re making an attempt to get issues proper,” stated Tonya Fowl.

Marilyn Tait needed her youngsters to know that “I am so happy with them.”

“They should not be shy of who they’re,” she stated. “Be who you might be.”

For Wanita Fowl, this week’s celebrations are particularly significant — she remembers elevating her two-spirit youngster on Ahtahkakoop and seeing the struggles she confronted whereas exploring her id.

“Traditionally, a very long time in the past, they stated two-spirited individuals inside our Indigenous communities have been very sacred,” stated Fowl. “They’d carry the sacred objects and have sacred roles throughout the group. And with colonization, a number of that was misplaced.

“So I believe that is the start of bringing again these roles and that respect, and I believe that’s the magnificence and energy of what we’re witnessing occurring right here in Ahtahkakoop.”

Now, Fowl’s youngster lives in Vancouver — however Fowl has been calling her with updates about Satisfaction Week since planning began in January.

“I may hear the happiness in her voice to know that it was occurring right here, on the reserve that she’s registered in,” stated Fowl.

All week lengthy, Fowl has delighted in seeing the group have fun Satisfaction — from wanting up on the flags as she walks previous them to listening to the Elders within the band workplace getting “pumped” about Drag Queen Bingo.

“It feels terrific to participate in Ahtahkakoop historical past and see this occurring for the primary time,” she stated. “Oh my gosh, I am so excited to witness this.”

Ahtahkakoop is considered one of many communities in Saskatchewan celebrating Satisfaction for the primary time this 12 months — and Gaetz hopes there might be many extra to observe subsequent 12 months and sooner or later.

“Do not be afraid to do it,” he stated. “Go for it. Consider your youth. Consider the people who find themselves struggling to search out who they’re.

“And simply do it with love.”

The Native Journalism Initiative helps the creation of authentic civic journalism that’s related to the various wants of underserved communities throughout Canada, broadening availability and consumption of native and regional information on issues of civic governance. Learn extra about The Local Journalism Initiative here.  In case you have any questions in regards to the Native Journalism Initiative program, please contact

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