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

Suicide, homicide, and other acts of violence

We have experienced so much death in such a short amount of time. I worry about the people here. We try our best to keep supporting everyone, but it’s hard for them.

Historical and current experiences of violence toward Indigenous people contribute to both personal and collective grief. Examples include the ongoing impact of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and the Residential School system.

The high rates of suicide and homicide for Indigenous LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit people, especially youth, reflect the damaging effects of racism, colonization, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. If you are grieving the death by suicide of an Indigenous LGBTQ+ or Two-Spirit person, your grief may be intensified not only by the knowledge that the person took their own life, but also by any previous suicides that you’ve grieved.

If you’re grieving the death of an Indigenous LGBTQ+ or Two-Spirit person who was murdered, the person’s death and your grief will be intertwined with the many deaths that have happened in the past and are continuing to happen. Your grief may include worry and fear for others in your community.

What may help

  • Remembering that part of your grief is shared by others may help you to connect or reconnect with people who understand and can support you.
  • You may want to reach out to Two-Spirit or other Indigenous organizations that offer traditional healing methods, such as plant medicines, sweat lodge ceremonies, and Sun Dance ceremonies, as ways to heal from grief and loss.
  • Consider creating ceremonies or celebrations to honour your Indigenous 2SLGBTQ+ identity and life. These can be private or shared with supportive others.
  • Ideally, you will have access to Indigenous resources and supports. If these are not available where you live, look for an organization that is truly inclusive of 2SLGBTQ+ people that offers support for grief after a suicide or violent death, and that understands the ways that homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and racism can impact your grief.
  • If you’re having thoughts of suicide or harming yourself, please reach out to people who will listen, hear, and understand you. If you don’t know of any resources in your local community, consider calling the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566, and finding an online support group.