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Métis 2SLGBTQIA+ Gathering

April 11-12, 2024

The Rupertsland Student and Alumni Association collaborated with the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society and the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Youth department to orchestrate an electrifying event aimed at uniting Métis and queer communities through shared experience, knowledge, and community.

The two-day event kicked off Thursday night with a trade show consisting of Indigenous and queer vendors and information booths. The official program began with unifying speeches from President of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Andrea Sandmaier, the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society, and a video message from Member of Parliament Randy Boissonault. Thursday night rounded off with a rousing performance by JUNO nominated singer-songwriter Shawnee Kish.

Friday morning featured a keynote speech from Member of Parliament Blake Desjarlais. Following the keynote was the first round of workshops involving activities from speaker-led conversations to crafts to Métis herbal teachings. The workshop facilitators worked to create informational and interactive demonstrations that encouraged maintaining a right to joy.

Participants on the livestream hosted by Jelly Marketing were treated to a morning workshop session by the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society with “No Closets In Teepees: Understanding Two-Spirit”, an empowering speech to remind attendees how important it is to understand that everybody is equally worthy no matter who they are or how they identify. This was followed by a 2SLGBTQIA+ in the Arts panel featuring JUNO nominated singer-songwriter Shawnee Kish, climate activist and social media personality Cree Nomad, and Métis beader May Beads.

Trans Rights YEG facilitated the afternoon workshop with a captivating talk on combating homophobic and transphobic attitudes in educational spaces. With experience undergoing hardships, the group taught the guests the significance in reclaiming and understanding the value of their Métis and queer identities. This workshop was followed by the 2SLGBTQIA+ in STEM panel featuring Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for Edmonton 2Spirit Society and registered nurse, KD King, co-founder of the Indigenous Medical and Dental Students’ Association, Dr. Andrew Volk, and ICU and CCU Registered Nurse Jackie Harrison.

Friday was capped off with a closing keynote speech by Canada’s Drag Race Season 4 winner VENUS discussing their professional and personal journey as a performer. The day brimmed with a sense of community while guests participated in the various activities and sessions offered throughout the day.

After the main event, Rupertsland Institute welcomed members of the community to end Friday night off with a Charity Drag Show hosted by drag royalty, Just Glue of 1 + 1 = 2Spirit . The show was a hit with performances from Canada’s Drag Race season 4 winner, VENUS, Melinda Verga, KAOS, and Tanner Steele who left the audience feeling uplifted and inspired.

The success of this event sets a message of support and solidarity from Rupertsland Institute to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.