Edmonton (Granthshala) – Many Canadians are waking up to political déj vu, however, some newcomers are heading to Ottawa.
The Edmonton Grisbach voting district has been generating a lot of buzz since the first two-spirit member of parliament was elected.
The NDP’s Blake DesJarlis narrowly ousted the Conservative’s incumbent Kerry Diotte.
Metis activists and community leaders openly identify as two-spirit, which is the 2S in LGBTQ2S+. He is one of the openly LGBTQ2S+ candidates to have officially won his seat on Tuesday.
Cheyenne Mihko Kiho, a community liaison with Edmonton Two-Spirit (E2S), explained that the term Two-Spirit is very specific to indigenous peoples.
The term was coined by elders to encompass a variety of gender teachings from various First Nations throughout North America.
E2S executive directors Kihêw and Jeffery Chalifoux say they are optimistic to see themselves reflected in parliament.
“It’s not very straightforward, and how Blake’s identity is going to be very different from me or Jeff,” Kiho explained.
“One of the definitions we’ve adopted in the Edmonton Two-Spirit Society is that two-spirit transcends that boundary by the female-male binary, therefore restoring the fluidity of gender between our people,” Chalfoux said. Explained.
Both Kiho and Chalifoux hope that Desjarlais’ election will inspire youth, but also give them a bigger voice.
“We are losing members of our community to overdose and suicide, and it has been a particularly difficult couple of weeks for our community, we have lost two members… two, two- Young people with feelings, for suicide. So we really want to encourage people to remember, there is help out there,” Kiho explained.
The pair are also hoping it can have an impact on society as a whole, recognizing not only that two-spirit individuals exist, but that they can take on leadership roles in Canada.
“A shift in understanding the diversity of who we are, and understanding the cultures and traditions that were here for a really long time, and we’re trying to reclaim the understanding of who we are,” Chalifoux explained.