Jingle dress dancer Nakeisha McDonald had to shake out the nerves as she was welcomed into the circle at her first two-spirit powwow in Winnipeg.
“I feel very light and happy, like I could just feel the happiness radiating off my body,” said McDonald, who is from Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Manitoba.
McDonald, who has been dancing powwow all of her life, brought her regalia and participated in the grand entry at the mini two-spirit powwow Wednesday in Winnipeg’s West Broadway neighbourhood.
“At first it feels kind of scary, but as they were bringing us all together and talking to us, I felt very welcomed, like a community, like a family. So it was very easy to get that sense of home,” said McDonald.
McDonald said that, growing up on-reserve, she hasn’t always felt accepted in her identity and was happy to be making new friends at the powwow.
“I feel like a lot of communities don’t accept two-spirited individuals, and here it’s more welcoming,” said McDonald.
“A lot more people come out here and they feel open to share their two-spiritedness in the open and not hide it.”
Being with community again
Anishinaabe elder Kelly Houle, who is from Sandy Bay First Nation, brought her jingle dress out on Wednesday and celebrated her birthday with fellow powwow attendees.
Houle said it’s been two years since the last two-spirit powwow in Winnipeg, and that she has been struggling with being isolated from family and friends during the pandemic.
She said it was nice to see everyone on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s fabulous that they are all here to heal and celebrate equinox,” said Houle.
Quentin Delorme and Feather Talia co-organized the “mini pop-up” powwow in less than two weeks. About 100 dancers, singers and spectators attended.
“It’s honestly filling my heart, even just hearing the big Cree laughter behind me and just seeing people smiling, getting together,” said Delorme.
Talia, who is from Muskowekwan Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, said they relied on two-spirit elders and Winnipeg’s LGBTQ community to help make the short notice powwow a success.
“It’s nice to have a celebration for our two-spirit folk and Indigenous people because I think everyone needs it,” Talia said.
“It’s part of healing and we all need it.”