Grand Council Treaty 3 has started off Pride month by announcing a new LGBTQ2S council for the territory and a commitment to include all community members in its governance.
“We’re finally bringing back the two-spirit voices into the conversations, into that table,” said Waawaate Fobister, who is Anishinaabe from Grassy Narrows First Nation, and was hired last month as the new council’s co-ordinator.
“Finally we’re getting our voices back into the community, in such an important way.”
Fobister will help to shape the council’s vision and mandate, as well as lead Pride initiatives.
Grand Council Treaty 3 is the national government of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty 3 territory, which is primarily in northwestern Ontario.
The new council will be an addition to Treaty 3’s four-direction governance model and will take its place alongside the existing elders, youth, women and men’s councils.
“It’s an exciting phase for the LGBTQ community members to be brought in . . . and I’m just excited and happy to be part of helping the seed grow,” said Fobister.
Fobister said these initiatives are especially important for youth.
“We need to take care of our young ones, especially the ones that identify as LGBTQ2S,” said Fobister.
“They need to see that we’re here, and we love them and that we support them and they belong.”
Winter Lipscombe, a representative of the youth council, said the new initiatives will show to the youth that their leadership cares.
“There’s a part of myself that kept myself hidden and I didn’t see myself represented,” said Lipscombe, who is Anishinaabe from Wauzhushk Onigum Nation.
“It’s going to mean that people will have role models. That is a super big thing. The members of the council will be able to advocate on behalf of the youth.”
The new council’s logo was created by Northwest Angle 33 artist Herminia Zavala.
On Monday, Francis Kavanaugh, the grand chief of Ground Council Treaty 3, and members of the grand council attended a Pride flag raising ceremony in Lac La Croix First Nation to kick off Pride month festivities.
“I am extremely proud of the support I have found in our Pride initiatives here in Treaty 3,” Kavanaugh said in a news release.
“On behalf of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty 3 I wish to send a message to LGBTQ2S+ people in our Nation and beyond: we see you, we appreciate you, it is important that you know that you are loved, and I humbly request that you celebrate with us this month and rejoin our circles in any way that you can.”
While Fobister works on creating an online presence for the new council and its activities, a virtual, two-spirit powwow for the territory is also in the works closer to the end of June.