Lac Seul First Nation recognizes Pride Month
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Lac Seul First Nation (LSFN) recognized Pride Month for the first time last week, resulting in a Band Council Resolution proclaiming the month of June to be Pride Month in the community.
In a statement on June 5, LSFN Chief Derek Maud and Council said they raised the Pride flag at the First Nation’s entrance, where they plan to keep it displayed throughout the month.
“Lac Seul First Nation is committed to supporting the visibility, dignity, and equality of all our 2SLGBTQ members. Chief and Council have signed a Band Council Resolution proclaiming the month of June to be Pride Month in Lac Seul First Nation in support of the 2SLGBTQ community. We have raised the Pride flag at the entrance to the First Nation where it will remain for the month of June as a symbol of our commitment to creating a safe space for our 2SLGBTQ members. We encourage all members to celebrate as we work together to promote equality and inclusion for all people,” the statement informed.
Melody McKiver, a LSFN band member and Two-Spirit Anishinaabe composer, said the recognition of Pride Month in LSFN makes them feel more welcome in the community. Their hope is to see the acknowledgement of being an affirming community in Lac Seul, and other First Nations, provide hope and peace for all generations.
“For me it’s really meaningful because it’s the first time the community has recognized Pride Month. I see it as a growing movement throughout Treaty #3 and First Nations across the country… It definitely makes me feel more welcome within my home community, and it also makes me feel optimistic because I think this a gesture for all of our generations. For myself, as a young adult, I know there’s many two-spirit identifying youth growing up in Lac Seul right now, and I also recognize that we have elders and folks older then myself that have lived through a lot of difficulties in their lifetime. I think to acknowledge ourselves as an affirming community is something that can hopefully bring some peace to our elders as well,” said McKiver (whose pronouns are they/their/theirs).
“As someone who spent much of my adult life involved in the two-spirit community across Canada, I lived in multiple cities, often the story is two-spirit or LGBTQ people need to leave their rural home communities and move to the big city. For myself I made the decision to leave Ottawa and return to Sioux Lookout, and I want other First Nations youth to know as well that their homes don’t need to be a place they have to run away from because I believe our homes can also be welcoming and affirming places for all members of our community,” they added.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler encouraged First Nations communities to declare June as Pride Month in a statement on June 1.
“June is a time to honour and celebrate the LGBTTI2SQ community. Last summer, we unveiled the NAN Pride flag at our Keewaywin Assembly. We had one for each of our First Nations, but within minutes, we ran out because our Chiefs and delegates wanted multiples; one for the band office, one for the school, and so on. We ended up having to order more and mail them up. Because of the pandemic, this year’s Pride celebrations are going to look a lot different. I encourage the NAN leadership to find innovative ways of celebrating and showing our LGBTTI2SQ members that they are loved and valued. Consider raising your NAN Pride flag. Consider passing a BCR to declare June as Pride month in your First Nation. Consider encouraging your members to come up with creative (but safe) ways of displaying their solidarity,” said Fiddler.
In a press release on June 4, Grand Council Treaty #3 declared June as Pride Month across Treaty #3.
“Grand Council Treaty #3 and the Office of the Ogichidaa have declared June to be Pride Month in Treaty #3. Pride Month is an opportunity for all to celebrate LGBTQ2S+ people and their contributions to our society. It is also a time to reflect on systemic discrimination and to take part in discussions on how to build a more inclusive society and reintroduce LGBTQ2S+ people into their rightful places within our Nation,” the press release states.
“LGBTQ2S+ people have made immense contributions to our communities and our Nation. The contributions of these citizens are always extraordinary because of the hurdles placed before them. June will be a month of acknowledging and honouring these contributions and accomplishments to ensure that never again a youth in our communities will feel limited in their ambition because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Throughout the month of June, Grand Council Treaty #3 and the Office of the Ogichidaa will partake in many Pride activities throughout Treaty #3 territory and commits to reassessing organizational and governance structures to ensure a more inclusive role for LGBTQ2S+ individuals within the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3,” the release further informs.
“On behalf of the leadership and citizens of the Anishinaabe Treaty #3, I call on everyone in the Treaty #3 territory to celebrate Pride Month so that we may build better communities, foster understanding and acceptance, and encourage all of our citizens to reach their full potential. Grand Council Treaty #3 and my office will continually work to break down barriers and ensure a place for everyone within our Nation and our governance structures,” said Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh.