Chapter 5: Grief in Indigenous LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit communities

Individual and shared grief

I felt like I had to educate healthcare staff about both being Indigenous and Two-Spirit. They asked questions like, “‘Is your wife a lesbian?” and “Tell us what Two-Spirit is.” They were interested, but why don’t they have Indigenous people coming in to do workshops and training? They could be working with friendship centres.

As an Indigenous LGBTQ+ or Two-Spirit person in Canada, you may grieve many losses that are unique to your circumstances. Some of the consequences of this include the loss of cultural identity; community; and familial, clan, and other relationships. Some of these are described below. Click on each phrase to read more.

If you are grieving the death of an Indigenous 2SLGBTQ+ person, you may feel a lack of support or recognition for your grief. You may also feel that you, the person who died, and your relationship with the person are not respected. If their family or community of origin does not accept their 2SLGBTQ+ identity and is in charge of funeral or other arrangements, you may be excluded or not feel free to participate.

These losses can run deep, affecting your day-to-day life, and you may find little support and understanding for your grief. If you are an Indigenous person, your personal grief is likely to be deeply embedded in the collective grief of all Indigenous people.

What may help

  • Look for ways to connect with other Indigenous LGBTQ+ or Two-Spirit people and to learn about traditional views of gender and sexuality.
  • If you’re without acceptance or support within your family or community of origin, you may be able create a “chosen family.”
  • Similarly, you may connect with a community, if not Indigenous and 2SLGBTQ+, then perhaps an Indigenous community that accepts and embraces you as you are, or a 2SLGBTQ+ community that is truly inclusive to Indigenous people.
  • Explore online supports and resources for Indigenous LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit people. 
  • By reflecting on ways your own grief is connected to that of other Indigenous Peoples, you may feel less alone and learn how others have found ways to live with their losses.