Grand Council Treaty #3 is changing its traditional governance structure in an effort to better include and represent the LGBTQ2S community in the Anishinaabe Nation.
Leaders from Treaty #3 made the announcement on Wednesday, after “significant thought and reflection,” as well as research into similar councils.
“Sometimes a governance system, no matter how sacred or functional, must be changed if it excludes those that are most vulnerable,” said Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh.
“This council is of critical importance to me as I seek guidance on how to ensure that LGBTQ2S individuals are never again left feeling as though they do not have a place within the nation that loves them.”
Treaty #3 is governed by a model which currently consists of four councils, each with four members, representing the four directions within their territory. The Chiefs-In-Assembly and the Ogichidaa are guided in their work by the councils which include the Women’s Council, the Men’s Council, the Youth Council, and the Elder’s Council.
‘It makes us a stronger nation’
In an interview with CBC News, Kavanaugh said he personally researched LGBTQ2S councils in other governance structures across Canada and couldn’t find any examples, making the new Treaty#3 council even more important.
“It makes us a stronger nation…by being very inclusive. Everybody matters within our territory,” he said. “A two spirited person is a very special person and now we just want them to take their rightful place within our nation.”
Kavanaugh said traditional living and teachings can be applied to the “modern reality,” and the decision to create a fifth council was a necessary change to ensure that every citizen of the Anishinaabe Nation feels they are represented.
“That reality resides with the creator, you know, they’re here for a reason. so we need to include it in our everyday decision making processes too…they’re part of us.”
Council to be selected at next assembly
According to the Grand Council, a selection of the LGBTQ2S Council members will occur at the next Chiefs-in-Assembly in the same manner as the other four councils. Its four members will be invited to oversee every aspect of the governance of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3.
Grand Council leaders are also encouraging other indigenous organizations, governments, and nations to reflect on how their systems impact the life experiences of LGBTQ2S people.
“The revival of their place within our nations can contribute to the decline of the colonial systems forced upon us and contribute to the healing we work towards every day,” said a media release from Grand Council Treaty #3.