What does it mean to be Two-Spirited?

June is not only Indigenous History Month, but also Pride Month, the month designated by provinces like Quebec and Ontario to celebrate the diversity in the identities of LGBTQ2S people, underline the social, cultural and political progress made in recent decades, and advocate for the safety and inclusion of Proud people around the world.

The Western Québec School Board acknowledges that the lands upon which we live, learn and work are the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe peoples. We thank the Algonquin people for sharing these lands and commit, as an organization, as educators and as individuals, to an on going relationship that recognizes and respects the lands, traditions and culture of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people.

As many of us are aware, the LGBTQ2S acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Two-Spirited. This acronym is often followed by a + sign to reflect the many more sexual or gender identities people may relate to, belong to, and be proud of.

Today, Two-Spirit, 2-Spirit or 2S is a term used to broadly reference Indigenous individuals in the LGBTQ community. Some Indigenous North-Americans use this term to describe their gender, sexual, or spiritual identities. 

  • In gender identity, Two-Spirit can refer to someone who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit, and sometimes, it can refer to a third gender altogether, outside of the binary man/woman norm;
  • When it comes to sexual identity, Two-Spirit can describe people whose sexual orientations fall outside of the heterosexual man-woman norm;
  • As for spiritual identity, the term could in some cases traditionally refer to individuals who were believed to have a supernatural ability in the forms of visions, and who often filled special roles in their communities as healers, shamans or ceremonial leaders.

Niizh Manidoowag

“Two-Spirit”, in Anishinaabemowin


Reclaiming Pre-Colonial Traditions

Before the colonization of North America by Europeans, different Indigenous communities were inclusive of people whose gender expression varied, whose work roles did not reflect the gender norms, or whose sexual orientations differed. These communities often had their own terms to describe someone who did not reflect all aspects of the cisgender and heterosexual norms. 

Today, Indigenous people who identify as Two-Spirit are effectively reclaiming some of the pre-colonial traditions that relate to gender and gender roles, sexual orientations and spiritual identities.


Indigenous History Month
Indigenous History Month

In June, we commemorate National Indigenous History Month. This month, take time to recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples across Canada: 


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