Anisnabe Kekendazone Network Environment for Aboriginal Health Research

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Bios: Alexandria Wilson

N’tacimowin inna nah’: Coming in to Two-spirit identities

PhD fellowship

Alexandria Wilson, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, completed a master’s degree in Education and is currently a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research activities were based in communities of Winnipeg and Northern Manitoba, where she had individual and group discussions with gay, lesbian and transgender Aboriginals who identify themselves as “two-spirit” and who were willing to reflect on and share their experiences. Alex’s research seeks to answer the following question: “How does the empowered identity of a two-spirit person appear within the context of sustained homophobia, sexism, and racism?”

In her own words

I am Swampy Cree from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. I was raised in Northern Manitoba and spent my childhood playing outdoors and learning about the land, plants and animals around our family home. I now live at Lake Atikemeg (Clearwater Lake), a traditional fishing area for our Nation. I still enjoy playing outdoors and am still learning about the water, land, plants and animals of the area.

The ACADRE fellowship has allowed me to continue, and will hopefully help me to complete, my doctoral research on “two-spirit” people. The term two-spirit is a self-descriptor used by many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Aboriginal people.

The expression reflects a traditional Aboriginal worldview that asserts that all aspects of identity (including sexuality, race, gender and spirituality) are interconnected and that a person’s experience of sexuality is inseparable from experiences of culture and community.

When I began this project, it quickly became apparent that typical ways of doing research were not getting to the complexity of the topic. Using Cree concepts (knowledge, experiences, values, and ethics) and guidance from other indigenous researchers, a unique indigenous research methodology began to emerge. It is my hope that this work will help other Aboriginal people who are trying to develop respectful and appropriate ways to do research. Ultimately, my study should help people working in health and wellness and education to gain a new understanding of two-spirit people.

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