TANSI. My name is Laurie McDonald and I am a Two Spirit from the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton Alberta. I have known I was given this gift since I was a little boy, probably as young as four- maybe even before that. Initially my early childhood was fine, surrounded by a family of nine who accepted me for been who I was. Unfortunately, history has not been kind to First Nation people and certainly not to “Gay“ people. In 1960, my life, as with many First Nation people, was turned upside down. I was scooped and placed in the Ermineskin Indian Residential School. Here, the lessons of life and being a gift from the creator were replaced with a daily struggle fighting off prejudice, sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect which became a way of life and survival for me in this institution. But survive, I did, with a promise upon leaving this school many years later that given the opportunity I would do everything in my power to restore the pride in being a two spirited person and to protect, through education, the rights of Aboriginal children.
As I look back on my career, first as an educator (Teaching for 27 years) then as a front line child protection Social Worker (6 Years), and presently as an Instructor for Aboriginal Social Workers (Five years) I reflect that throughout this remarkable career, the concept of been two spirited and the honorable roles that come with this gift, have been inter-twined in all aspect of my life.
Recently I celebrate two fold (1) 40 years with my life partner, Peter Dawson (2) the fact that the Greater Vancouver Native Culture Two Spirit Society which I also founded 40 years ago is still active and educating, supporting and promoting not only are our Two spirited people but all other communities, be it our First Nation communities or the GLBT community. And this we do with Pride.