(From left) Chevi Rabbit, a human rights activist and Maskwacis Two Spirit Committee president, and Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation band councillor unveil a rainbow crosswalk in Maskwacis Wednesday. Photo supplied

First rainbow crosswalk on First Nation reserve in Canada unveiled

More than 15 volunteers painted the colourful crosswalk in front of Samson Cree Nation

A rainbow crosswalk in Alberta might be the first one on a First Nations reserve in Canada.

More than 15 volunteers painted the colourful crosswalk on Wednesday in front of Samson Cree Nation administration building to celebrate Pride Month.

At the unveiling in Maskwacis, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback said he wants the community to be a safe haven for everyone – regardless of religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

“I have a niece who is gay. She just came out. It’s her first pride parade this year,” said Saddleback. “She has finally come out, I’m really happy for her.”

Chevi Rabbit, Two Spirit Committee president, said the crosswalk is a milestone and vital for the Maskwacis community. The Maskwacis Two Spirit Committee, represents the four nations in Maskwacis.

She said the rainbow represents the LGBTQ2S community in all four nations which form Maskwacis even though the rainbow crosswalk is in Samson Cree Nation.

Rabbit, a human rights activist, who was recognized by Premier Rachel Notley in December, said there are many LGBTQ2S community members who live a closeted life in the community.

“I would say we have a very high LGBTQ2S population – they’re really timid and shy,” said Rabbit, a former Red Deer College student.

Rabbit said she knows of at least 50 to 60 people who are LGBTQ2S or “Two Spirited” in Maskwacis, and believes there are more.

“The symbolism of having this crosswalk front and centre is signalling to the community that Two Spirit culture has arrived and we’re back and we’re here and we’re going to make ourselves heard,” said the 32-year-old.

Rabbit, who moved back to Maskwacis in December from Edmonton, was referring to celebrating the LGBTQ2S community – something that was common in the the Aboriginal culture in the past.

Katherine Swampy, a Samson Cree Nation band councillor explained “Two Spirited” people were accepted and celebrated in the culture and were looked up with high regard.

“They were said to have Two Spirit – to be able to see through a male lens and a female lens and they had a spirit guiding them through life or watching over them,” said Swampy.

“And when the settlers came they were the first one to be abolished.”

Rabbit said with the rainbow crosswalk, the hope is LGBTQ2S or “Two Spirited” people in Maskwacis feel included and welcome in the community.

“It’s a way of showing people ‘yes you’re welcome here and this is a safe zone. Its not something you have to worry about. Its an inclusive community,’” said the local politician.

Swampy said she believes the rainbow crosswalk in support of the LGBTQ2S community in Maskwacis is the first because she has not heard of any others throughout Canada.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A volunteer paints a rainbow crosswalk in Maskwacis Wednesday. Photo supplied

(From left) Chevi Rabbit, a human rights activist and Maskwacis Two Spirit Committee president, and Samson Cree Nation Chief Vernon Saddleback at the unveiling of a rainbow crosswalk in Maskwacis. Photo supplied

Volunteers painted and unveiled of a rainbow crosswalk in Maskwacis Wednesday. Photo supplied

(Middle) Chevi Rabbit, a human rights activist and Maskwacis Two Spirit Committee president, along with volunteers at the unveiling of a rainbow crosswalk in Maskwacis Wednesday. Photo supplied

More than 15 volunteers were painting a rainbow crosswalk in Maskwacis Wednesday. Photo supplied

Just Posted

Volunteers with the newly-created Blind Bay Citizens Patrol visited South Shuswap businesses to provide information about their organization on Oct. 28. (Photo contributed)
Blind Bay Citizens Patrol takes to the streets

The organization of the group is a year in the making but patrols will begin soon.

Request to put a porta-potty at Salmon Arm’s Klahani Park for students is approved by city council. (File photo)
Salmon Arm council OKs plan to provide porta-potty in park

Outdoor school principal asks for permission to put portable toilet in Klahani Park during winter

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

This Photoshopped version of the crosswalks near the entrance to the Salmon Arm Arts Centre on Hudson Avenue show what is proposed to help create safety for and show inclusivity to the LGBTQ2S+ community. (Salmon Arm Arts Centre image)
Tri-rainbow crosswalk and Progress flag requested to help make Salmon Arm safe

Council will consider budget requests to help make city inclusive to LBGTQ2S+ community

A pair of Oct. 27 vehicle crashes damaged the railing of the RW Bruhn Bridge. (Sicamous RCMP photo)
Railing of Sicamous’ Bruhn Bridge damaged, repairs could take months

Sicamous says sidewalk will be inaccessible to wheelchairs until repairs complete

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

In May 2019, Brennan Joel Metlewsky and Jordan Robert Kupser were charged with attempted murder, robbery and aggravated assault stemming from an incident that took place in Vernon in 2017. (Facebook photo)
Attempted murder charges dropped for pair accused in Vernon stabbing

Brennan Metlewsky and Jordan Kupser will appear in Supreme Court to set a new trial date

Eric Termuende and the Emily Dahl Foundation are presenting a virtual ‘fireside conversation’ on modern happiness from the stage of the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon Nov. 3, 2020, at 7 p.m. (YouTube)
Mental health advocate joins happiness chat in North Okanagan

Versed public speaker teams up with Emily Dahl Foundation to equip virtual guests with tools to live a happier life

A boat moored at Turtle Bay Marina was reported stolen Oct. 1 and remains under investigation. (Contributed)
North Okanagan crimes remain unsolved

Boat stolen from marina, theft of siding and vehicle break and enter

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Most Read