We are very excited to finally be able to release the short film “Regalia: Pride in Two Spirits”, that premiered last night at the 2015 Vancouver Queer Film Festival this year, at the Bright Eyes, Queer Hearts youth shorts program.
Big thank you to our team member and friend, Duane Stewart, who shares his story as a First Nations queer person, who identifies as “Two Spirited”. Duane talks about the importance of culture in his life, and his journey coming out to his family!
Introducing our newest collaborator and team member – Duane 🙂
Duane R Stewart-Grant is Haisla from Kitamaat Village and Nuu-Chah-nuthl from Port Alberni. His Haisla name is c’ee’hixid and he is from the Raven clan.
In 2006, when he was living in Kitamaat he worked for Kitamaat Village Radio (KVR 96.1FM), where in 2008 he became the radio station manager until 2010. While working at KVR he started learning and growing closer to his culture.
In 2006/2007 he participated in the Star in Your Own Stories with Chee Mamuk, Hello Cool World and 11 other youth from the Haisla Nation. In three days they produced and stared in their own little story called Stand True. Stand True talks about how rumors can spread around like HIV/AIDS. Through Stand True, Duane was able to travel all over BC and he even traveled outside BC for the first time!
Duane came out to his family on May 4, 2010, but knew he was two-spirited at an early age. Through his travels he did with Stand True he met many other Two-Spirited people who were out, strong and proud to be two-spirited, he looked up to them for guidance during his journey.
When he moved to Burnaby in 2013 he started dancing with the Git Hayetsk Dancers and started apprenticing with Mike & Mique’l Dangeli. He now is learning to carve, paint, create regalia, dance, and is drawing First Nation art. Duane hopes to one day bring his knowledge back home and start teaching the next generation what he has learned!
…here in Canada, we have barely even begun to recognize the wrong doings that we, as settlers on indigenous land, have done to First Nations people. We’ve created an apartheid system, which inherently disenfranchises First Nations people, yet somehow we market ourselves as “apologetic, peace loving, Canadians”.
The University of Cape Town – my alma mater – recently hit the international news headlines with the success of the #RhodesMustFall movement, in having the statue of John Cecil Rhodes removed from centre of the university campus.
Rhodes was a British businessman who helped colonized Southern Africa. He had a vision for a railroad to be built from the Cape to Cairo, and it is said that at the place where the statue of Rhodes stood at UCT, on Devil’s peak, Rhodes proclaimed that as far as the eye can see, would be the British Empire…Ironically, the statue overlooks the Cape Flats, which is where black and coloured people were forced to live under apartheid. In “post-apartheid” South Africa, part of the vision for a “transformed” South Africa was to consider all the ways that the country has been colonized, and to find ways to “transform” the country towards a new, equitable, decolonized, Rainbow Nation. This includes grappling with how places, buildings, streets have been named after colonial rulers, and to contend with the impact of having those names attached to land and property. The #RhodesMustFall movement grew out of a larger dialogue about systemic racism at UCT, both within the student body, and within the teaching staff and faculty. The removal of the statue (and other statues and symbols of apartheid, white supremacy, and colonization) is only part and parcel of a larger movement about decolonization, and contending with what it means to be “transformed”.
I have been watching this movement closely for personal reasons, but also because it has forced me to reflect on my own
context, living in colonial Canada, and what it would mean – or what it would take, rather – for a #RhodesMustFall movement to happen in Canada. In my experience, here in Canada, we have barely even begun to recognize the wrong doings that we, as settlers on indigenous land, have done to First Nations people. We’ve created an apartheid system, which inherently disenfranchises First Nations people, yet somehow we market ourselves as “apologetic, peace loving, Canadians”. Fun fact: the South African apartheid system was actually designed after the Canadian system – the South African ambassador to Canada had a special relationship to visit Canada to learn from Indian Affairs, how Canada “managed” indigenous people.
It makes me think about our own “reconciliation” process that we are still going through here in Canada, and how we still have an “Indian Affairs” department in the federal government that continues to manage, marginalize, and give different rights to First Nations people. I think about the systemic racism towards First Nations people that this country continues to reinforce again and again. I think about the comments that we all regularly hear about “lazy Indians who don’t pay taxes” and “chugs”.
I think about the elementary school that I went to: Sir James Douglas, a fur trader and first governor of British Columbia. I think about the high school I went to: Eric Hamber, the first Lieutenant Governor (the representative of the Queen) of British Columbia. Even the name of our city, named after Captain George Vancouver, and province – British Columbia. I think about how we don’t even think twice about what that means to have the names of these icons of colonialism emblazoned all over this land.
How complicit am I, when I don’t even think twice about the fact that we still have the queen on our money – a monarch?
#RhodesMustFall has been a big wake up call to me, that we need to seriously check ourselves here in Canada, about what we are doing to indigenous people, by being totally complicit in the colonial violence and oppression.
What will it take for a #RhodesMustFall movement here?