By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Teddy Syrette, a two-spirit artist and advocate says a significant housing crisis exists for two-spirit people across Canada – and it is a concerning issue that needs to be addressed urgently.
Discrimination based on gender identity and sexuality, as well as racism, only exacerbates the problem.
Syrette uses the pronouns ‘they,’ ‘their,’ and ‘them’ as gender-neutral, singular pronouns that are becoming more accepted, as is the acceptance that people define their genders, they said.
2SLGBTQQIA is an acronym for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual. This acronym is used in the LGBTQ+ community to refer to a diverse group of people identifying with various gender identities and sexual orientations.
“Two-spirit people face multiple levels of oppression through the housing market, especially gender-based discrimination if they identify as non-binary, transgender, and two-spirit,” said Syrette.
It is essential for leaders at the provincial and federal levels to take action and create more awareness around the issue, they add.
Providing funding for two-spirit led housing initiatives and creating policies that support the inclusion of two-spirit and transgender individuals in homeless shelters and transitional housing would be a step in the right direction. Creating safe and inclusive spaces for all members of the 2SLGBTQQIA community is critical in addressing the ongoing housing crisis.
There is already an existing housing crisis for all Indigenous people, explained Syrette. Still, for two-spirit folks, the issue of not having access to safe and affordable housing is amplified.
Two-spirited people also face discrimination as Indigenous people, added Syrette.
“Provincially, what leaders can do is create more awareness, also, look at what data or information is available when it comes to Indigenous 2SLGBTQQIA populations facing a housing crisis, or within the margins when it comes to access to housing.”
“Homeless shelters don’t often include two-spirit or transgender policies in place and are often not included,” they said.
Provincially, transitional housing would be an asset to the two-spirit – 2SLGBTQQIA community. “This would help alleviate some of the pressures they are facing.”
“Federally, what they can do is create more awareness on the issue and provide funding for two-spirit led housing initiatives.”
“Supportive housing for two-spirit – 2SLGBTQQIA housing would benefit the community. Supportive housing will increase health and wellness and improve the social determinants of health and mental health,” said Syrette.
“We need to create a safe place to go that is inclusive…There have been instances where two-spirit – 2SLGBTQQIA folks seek services that say they are welcoming and inclusive, but they are not.”
They add, “But when it comes down to accessing those services and programs, two-spirit – 2SLGBTQQIA face different forms of discrimination.”
“Following policies of inclusion on existing reports is important,” said Syrette, such as the MMIW2S final report on LGBTQ had calls to actions that can be implemented.
The National Inquiry’s Final Report revealed that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
The two-volume report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities nationwide.
Syrette ends the interview by stressing the need for representation of two-spirit and transgender individuals on all committees and advisory committees, as well as two-spirit advisory committees specific to the needs of the Indigenous Two-Spirit-Transgender community.
“It is my hope that more attention will be given to this issue, and meaningful actions will be taken to address this crisis,” said Syrette.