Submitted by Penny Trites, leader, Indigenous Health

Penny Trites, Indigenous Health Department leader, shares how Pixie Wells supports the health system so that 2SLGBTQIA+ people feel they can be their authentic selves.

UnKie Pixie Wells, president of the Fraser Valley Métis Association, just received the Indigenous name Oshâwisôniyâwô Mik'sôwak (He is Golden Eagle), which means “the one who looks over the community flies close to the creator and looks over the people.”

This name is very fitting. UnKie helped design, and currently chairs, the National Committee for 2SLGBTQQIA+, which aims to “give us a place and voice where no one can speak for us.” The committee has inspired people, while creating a space to advocate for change and a sense of belonging and is organizing a Métis 2SLGBTQQIA+ national gathering, scheduled for next year.

Pride Month is a time that brings together Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and other diverse people (2SLGBTQIA+), communities and allies to celebrate and honour their resilience, talent and contributions. Although these celebrations peak in June, events and work take place throughout the year to advance equality and representation.

Pride Month is very important to Pixie. As a lesbian woman, Pixie remembers “coming in” when she was 14. After telling her parents, she felt able to “own myself and be authentic to myself.” For Pixie, the most powerful place in a person’s life is where they feel they can be authentic. She thinks a lot about how difficult it is for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth if they do not have family, friends or spaces to truly be their authentic selves – which she refers to as being brave.

Pixie asserts, “we need to move away from the word ‘safe’ and open the doors to create brave spaces where we can be authentically ourselves – the most powerful place to live our lives.”

Pixie says that, as a lesbian, she feels she has never felt true privilege until now. “I can walk into any space that my gay friends would be met very differently. People will say ‘it’s okay, it’s just two women.’ Trans youth and gay male youth cannot walk into the same space.”

Pixie advocates for moving away from the word ‘safe’ because we cannot control people’s intentions or thoughts. Instead, she says that we need to create brave spaces where people can be brave to take up air in the space.

She says that health professionals can create brave spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ people through education, pushing back against hate and asking people what would help them feel brave. It also means ensuring all spaces are inclusive, which was a message she shared with Pope Francis when she met him recently.

Photo: Pixie was among the Métis delegation that met Pope Francis two years ago. Image source: CBC.

Colonization erased so much of the role of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people within Indigenous cultures but Pixie sees this returning as Two-Spirit people reclaim their presence as bridge builders who sit in the middle.

“We are resurging. Two-Spirit people are coming home!”

“Pride” means so much to UnKie Pixie because it is an opportunity for 2SLGBTQQIA+ people to be visible and ensure they are seen in a way that, “we haven’t been seen before… for brave people to be authentically themselves. It is allowing people to see themselves as they want to be seen.”

“Don’t let anyone put your candle out, let your light shine.” Pixie says, “if it’s too bright for some people, they can put on their shades.”


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