Tag Archives: Gina Metallic

Working It Out Together: Two-Spirited Gifts

Series host Waneek Horn-Miller opens this episode with the statement: “Love is a special kind of magic that people have between them, and everyone is allowed to have that magic.” This is the theme that is repeated throughout as we explore what it means to be two-spirited, both in traditional communities and in today’s society.

Waneek continues: “Sexuality should be something that acts as a strength rather than a fear as we grow and mature.”

Prior to colonization, Two-spiritedness—one body containing both the male and the female spirit—was held in high esteem. Gina Metallic, Social Worker, explains that two-spirited people were medicine people, pipe carriers, marriage counsellors and teachers. “They especially made good social workers and counselors because they were able to see both the male and female sides equally.”

Traditionally, Indigenous people saw sexuality and gender  as something that constantly evolves during the lifetime. However,  at the time of colonization, the settlers sought to destroy this practice, using the influence  of the Jesuits. Christian indoctrination removed the influence of the two-spirited advisors within the community, effectively breaking down the social structures. This  attitude was perpetuated for generations within the Residential School System; children who exhibited non-normative behaviours grew up ostracized.

Ms. Metallic also discusses how today, those who are two-spirited continue to feel  like an outsider in their home communities due to homo and trans phobias and oftentimes gravitate to larger urban areas in order to find acceptance. However, many times those who do seek refuge and find anonymity in larger centres then encounter racism. As a result, two-spirited people often turn to sex work to survive and “have the highest rate of suicide of any population.”

Robbie Masden shares his journey as he comes to accept and learn to celebrate his two-spirited self.  Growing up, Robbie was subjected to “gay bashing” and turned to alcohol and drug abuse as a means to escape himself. It was not until Robbie returned to his home community and explored the history of two-spiritedness that he began to understand and recognize the gifts he had been given, and began to heal himself.

This episode also features Pasha Partridge. Pasha shares her experiences as a bisexual, and is currently in a serious relationship with a woman. Pasha and her girlfriend left their remote northern community and now reside in her father’s community,  Kanahwa:ke, QC in order to avoid social persecution.


Recap: Working It Out Together – Babbeyjane Happyjack

A group of children playing hockey is featured in the cold open of this week’s episode with voice-over provided by Dr. Cindy Blackstock. “In Indigenous communities around the world, children were by far the most important people in the community, and what was done in the colonial process was the clear separation of children from their families.”

Dr. Blackstock reminds viewers that the residential school system not only harmed children, normalizing them to abuse,  but the parents and families left behind by this process lost their purpose for living. She points out that traditionally, “the raising of children was viewed as a communal responsibility; to ensure that they grow up healthy, happy, proud of who they are, and it was the nurturing of the children and their relationship to the land that really defined the cultural perpetuity of our nations.”

We also learn that the current generation of Indigenous children in Canada have less funding for education, health care, mental health programming, and child welfare. They have less access to clean water, and proper housing, and less funding for support services and addiction services than all other Canadians do.

This episode follows the story of 26-year-old Babbeyjane Happyjack, an educator from Waswanipi, Quebec, who is successfully raising her son and two foster children from her community. Babbeyjane shares her own story of abandonment by parents who suffered from substance abuse which resulted in her placement into foster care.  Babbeyjane’s story is not the exception but the rule. In many provinces half of all children in foster care are Indigenous, removed from family and culture.

Gina Metallic, Social Worker and Community Organizer, explains that abuse has been transferred from the residential school system to another governmental agency.  The one system created neglectful and abusive parents which has led to the apprehension of children at an alarming rate across Canada. This epidemic has assumed the moniker “Millennial Scoop,” and currently there are three times as many Indigenous children in foster care than there were during the height of the Indian Residential School system.

This incredibly powerful and yet poignant installment demonstrates  that the systemic neglect, rooted for generations in government policy, demands a conscious decision to recover the traditional purpose as caregivers and “hold ourselves to the highest standard we can, to be stronger than we ever thought we could be for our kids”.

Babbeyjane Happyjack – Fostering Positive Change, originally aired on the 20th Anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, a day that celebrates Indigenous cultures and contributions across Canada and is an opportunity for those of non-Indigenous decent to learn more about cultural diversity across Canada

This episode also discusses the Canadian Human Rights  tribunal , a lawsuit filed by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, that ultimately ruled that the Government of Canada is guilty of discriminating against 163,000 Indigenous children.