The two-spirits of the first nations







Montréal, Thursday, July 11, 2019 – The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal (CIAC MTL), in partnership with the Montréal First Peoples and the Montréal Pride Festivals, is proud to present THE TWO-SPIRITS OF THE FIRST NATIONS. This event will bring together several artists from Québec and Canada and Two-Spirits speakers; it will take place from August 5th to 21st, 2019.


We often use the LGBTQ2S acronym but what do we know about the “2S” that are part of it?


Claude Gosselin, director of CIAC MTL and commissioner of this project emphasizes that “while the concept of Two-Spirit is largely debated and understood by people in the Prairies and Western Canada, it is less discussed in Quebec despite some academic work and community actions done here and there. Indeed, there are only a few documentations in French about this reality, which existed long before the arrival of the Europeans in Americas. By bringing this event, we wish that it will create the opportunity to share essential information to people about the recognition of genders, which is an interesting subject currently debated in our society.”


Albert McLeod, codirector of Two-Spirited People of Manitoba, put forward a definition which said: “a Two-Spirited identity is carried by individuals who assume gender variance attitudes, various roles and attributes for personal, spiritual, cultural, ceremonial or social purposes.”


The event will present diverse cultural productions in visual arts, videos, films and performances.





Among the artists, Adrian Stimson will display his paintings, prints from his Naked Napi series and perform one of his original performances. Napi is a character from the Blackfoot nation that is central to their stories; he is often referred to as the “Old Man”. Napi comes from the sun; he is their quasi-Creator and also represents their moral guide.


Adrian Stimson adds: “I hope that this series of painting will incite people to understand and accept our way of life – Be Napi, create stories for our time and our Two-Spirited […].


By creating these stories, I really hope to reinvent Napi in the present, to make it queer to create new stories […]”.


… “My intention is to talk back to and reappropriate De Bry’s depictions, especially the emasculations, degradation and slaughtering of the Two-Spirited peoples, to bring them into the present, exorcise the horrors that these people faced, to reclaim our power, bodies and sexuality.”



(Editor note’s : Théodore de Bry was a 16th century engraver from Liège who illustrated the way of live of Natives Peoples in Americas based on the stories of the Spanish and Portuguese explorers, but he never set foot in Americas).


Calgary artist Adrian Stimson has received many acknowledgments for his works. In 2018, he was honored with a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts from the Canada Council for the Arts for highlighting the importance of his work and his commitment among the arts community in Canada.


Adrian Stimson and AA Bronson (General Idea) will present a joint work at the 1st Toronto Biennial of Art next September. It is for each artist to recall the commitment of their respective ancestors, their great-grandfathers, in the registration of youth at the “Old Sun” residential school of the Siksika Nation in Alberta. AA Bronson’s great-grandfather was the first missionary of the Siksika nation while Stimson’s was a schoolboy.


Ma-Nee Chacaby will present drawings, watercolors and masks. The extraordinary story of Ma-Nee Chacaby is one of courage, suffering and love. As Two-Spirited, Ma-Nee is today an inspiration. This is the first exhibition of the artist in Montréal.


Exhibitions and some activities will be presented at Espace CDEx, UQAM, 405 Sainte-Catherine Street East (corner Saint-Denis), Local J-R940, and various locations in Montreal. Info on for complete and up-to-date programming. Free admission – donations suggested.

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Directors Jazmine Smith, Tyler Jacobs, Melissa Mollen Dupuis and Jerilyn Webster have made four movies, produced by Wapikoni, that portray appealing stories from Two-Spirits.

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Cabaret Vol de nuit, 14 Prince-Arthur Street East, Montreal. Free admission. Suggested donation of $2 or more.


Adrian Stimson will give a new performance entitled Naked Napi Big Game Hunter.


Guy Sioui Durand (sociologist and art critic) and Soleil Launière (Two-Spirits artist) will present a conference-performance entitled Entre chair et corps: rites de passages.

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Institut national de l’image et du son (INIS) 301, boulevard de Maisonneuve Est, salle 362.


On the other hand, June Scudeler (Métis), Assistant Professor in the Department of First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, will give a lecture about the Two-Spirits representation in the Americas Indigenous cinema. This lecture is being presented in a seminar organized by The Queen’s University at Kingston, with the partnership of the Montréal First Peoples Festival and CIAC MTL.

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Founder – General and Artistic Director
Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal


Founder – Director of Cultural Activities
Festival Présence autochtone, Montréal