A message from Dr. Evan Adams, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Office of the Chief Medical Officer (OCMO); and Wayne Wallace, Director, Urban and Away-from-Home
On International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (May 17), the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) joins First Nations and other Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA+ (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual) communities across the world in reaffirming their fundamental right to be treated respectfully and equally, regardless of gender and sexual identity or expression. The FNHA also reaffirms its commitment to denouncing the discrimination and violence these communities continue to face.
As proud members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community ourselves, and leaders within the FNHA, we applaud the efforts of the courageous and passionate First Nations community leaders and members who have played significant roles in advancing the rights of those who identify as 2SLGBTQQIA+.
This year's theme for this day, “Together always: united in diversity," calls for celebration of and advocacy for 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities. “Being 'united in diversity' will strengthen all of us and benefit all nations, genders and age groups," says Jacquie Carpenter, a First Nations woman and member of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community in BC who works at the FNHA as Administrative Coordinator for Nursing Education Services. “Everyone has the right to respect and acknowledgment, and welcoming and respecting each person's uniqueness and gifts can only enhance the lives of others."
The FNHA's 2023-2024 Summary Service Plan, Paddling Together: First Nations Health Authority Health and Wellness Plan, states that: “Our journey also supports the traditions of our matriarchs who play an important role in bringing future generations into being, and our two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) leaders working to decolonize gender and reclaim important roles they hold in many First Nations cultures. The FNHA will continue to work for equitable access to quality services as directed by First Nations and Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities in BC."
The FNHA honours the resilience, strength, and inherent value of First Nations and other Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals, and is committed to listening to their voices, stories, and lived experiences while working together for positive change.
Traditionally, our communities embraced the multiple and diverse gender, sexual, and spiritual identities of two-spirit individuals. In many First Nations cultures, these individuals were esteemed for their unique gifts, and for the roles they played as visionaries and healers. Colonialism, and the myriad false, racist, discriminatory doctrines of superiority that accompanied it, disrupted the perception of the value of these identities, leading to discrimination, violence, and subsequent trauma and intergenerational trauma. And, although some think of colonialism as a thing of the past, the unfortunate truth is that many things, including 2SLGBTQQIA+ rights, are massively impacted by colonialism to this day.
Nevertheless, many 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples are returning and reclaiming their place as a valued part of their families, cultures, communities, and lands, in connection with all our relations.
To help recognize this day, we suggest taking the time to listen, learn, and reflect on the stories shared by First Nations and Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals by connecting with community, participating in a May 17 event, or through art, film, and writing. We also encourage you to view our 2SLGBTQQIA+ resource list at www.fnha.ca/Documents/FNHA-2SLGBTQQIA-Resource-List.pdf!