Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Annual Rainbow Flag Raising at Langley City Hall – Acknowledging Two-Spirit Indigenous Identity

For the fourth year in a row, the rainbow flag was raised at Langley City Hall and the Timms Community Centre. The rainbow flag is an international symbol of inclusiveness and diversity and will be flown for one week to coincide with Vancouver Pride week.

Every year, community organizations request the raising of the rainbow flag. In the previous year, groups such as the Friends of Dorthy Youth Group and the LGBTQ Seniors of Langley have requested raising the flag. This year, Katie Pearson, CEO of the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society, asked to raise the rainbow flag on behalf of her organization.

On behalf of the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society, Katie Pearson raised the rainbow flag at Langley City Hall.

Many people in Canada are becoming more aware of the horrors of the residential school system in Canada. The role of this system amounted to “cultural genocide,” as acknowledged in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

The Canadian colonial system only acknowledged two genders, “woman” and “man,” and a strict system of femininity and masculinity. Any deviation from this strict system was met with severe punishment.

In Coast Salish and other Indigenous Societies, genders and gender performances did not conform to the strict colonial system.

When the Canadian governments forced Indigenous children into the residential school system, they forced them to conform to the colonial two-gendered, “straight” system. As Kaite noted in her speech at the flag-raising, hair was cut, and children were forced into being the colonial ideal of a boy or girl, traumatizing generations of children, families, and communities.

Today, some Indigenous communities use the term Two-Spirit to describe Indigenous people with mixed, ambiguous, or plural genders. Two-Spirit people can have both masculine and feminine attributes.

As noted by Trans Care BC , “Before colonization, Two-Spirit people were included and respected as valued community members, often holding revered roles such as healers, matchmakers, and counsellors, among many others.”

“One of many lasting impacts of colonization on Two-Spirit people, is an increased level of homophobia and transphobia within many Indigenous communities, which can often cause Two-Spirit people to leave their home communities (and subsequently, their families, land, and culture).”

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