A Note on Language
The terms used by Kindling to identify some aspects of the artists’ genders and/or sexualities are in the english language. This is to make the project as accessible to as many people as possible within the context of british colonialism of Turtle Island. There are many Indigenous language concepts to represent what it means ‘to start a fire’ and ‘to be in relationship.’ Using the term ‘kindling’ here is meant to reinforce connection, while showing there are relevant lines of relationship accountability to england, including the Treaties.
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) is an umbrella acronym that is used to by individuals to name themselves, or communities that come together in various ways. Other terms that are sometimes added to this acronym may include Intersex, Pansexual, Non-Binary, Asexual, Femme, and more. Each of these english terms show the importance of gender and sexual diversity, while at the same time none have exact parallel meanings in Indigenous language concepts.
Woman or women is used here to include the diverse experiences of people who self-identify. An earlier version of this project used the term ‘womxn.’ This has since changed to ‘women.’ Many have shared how ‘womxn’ isn’t inclusive of trans women and this doesn't sit well with us. Additionally, the ‘x’ used by latinx communities has a distinct purpose within decolonizing spanish that doesn’t carry into english. Solidarity is necessary as there are stories which tell us about these strong relationships existing prior to colonial borders, and Mexico is part of Turtle Island.
In some cases, individual artists have chosen to share their own Indigenous language gender and sexuality concepts to describe who they are and how they understand themselves within their own cultural contexts. These concepts are special and not to be used out of context. We are very grateful to hear them spoken as they are living reminders of the longevity of our place in creation and re-creation.
The term Two-Spirit is an english translation of a spirit name, niizh manidoowag, which comes from Anishinaabe teachings and language. Elder Myra Laramee shared this name at a gathering in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1990. (link: https://www.outsaskatoon.ca/two_spirit1) Since then, there have been many gatherings of Two-Spirit people and their loved ones such as powwows, art exhibitions, land and water reclamation projects, organizations, conferences, ceremonies, and more. Everyone with a genuine interest is encouraged to do their own research and learn from what’s already been shared by Indigenous-led projects and organizations. Reciprocity and reparations can happen through donations, fundraisers, redirected taxes, and other consensual relationships.
A Note on Context
Continuing to learn about the impacts of targeted genocidal policies and projects by canada and christian-based churches is critical, such as land theft and resource extraction, Indian Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, the current Foster Care system, the history of the RCMP and the current prison systems - including all forms of policing and incarceration, and the epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Children, Two-Spirit, and Trans people. This isn’t even a complete list, though all affect Indigenous LGBTQ+, Women, and Two Spirit people in unique ways.
We ask that all who visit this website commit to learning about and holding the canadian government and christian-based churches accountable for the unmarked graves of stolen Indigenous children; chronic underfunding of on-Reserve programs for Indigenous children; anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, and anti-Asian racism that is embedded in every aspect of north american society; and the rampant misogyny, ableism, fatphobia, transphobia, and homophobia within medical systems. This includes addressing the current and historical impacts of diagnosing Indigenous LGBTQ, Women, and Two Spirit people with ‘Gender Identity Dysphoria’ and how this secretive, government sanctioned practice medicalized Indigenous gender concepts actively undermines Indigenous sovereignty, including the impacts on children and youth.
Kindling is birthed with a lot of love, expressed through the labour of community relations. This is a work in progress. It is a grassroots, community art project with some funding. With this gathering of stories, there is an intelligible hope to widen the circle, to make something beautiful and useful to the artists who’ve chosen to share a small part of who they are and how they work. If you are Indigenous and have read this far, we hope you can see some part of yourselves reflected here. If not, please be gentle with us as we are carrying a large bundle in this and other parts of our lives, and still want to hear from you.
There are innumerable people who have supported Kindling. Wela’lioq, Nia:wenkowa, Gchi Miigwech, Nakurmiik, Marsi, Anushiik, to everyone who’s contributed in many ways. Big thanks to the artists for contributing their interviews, to the helpers, advisors, interviewers, and editors: known and unknown.
Special appreciation to Afuwa Granger, Arlea Ashcroft, Ceilidh Isadore, Christa Couture, Davis McKenzie,
G.R. Gritt, Krysta Williams, Margaret Robinson, M. Carmen Lane, Marie Laing, Tory Trujillo, Vi Levitt.