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Rainbow Moccasins

Estimated Time: 1-3 Hours


I challenge you to complete a Rainbow Moccasins word association activity! Write the initialisms “LGBTQ2S+” and “FNMI” in different spots on a piece of paper. Do a word association and brainstorm all of the words and ideas that you can think of that fit with each initialism. When you’re done, circle the words that came up on both lists! Consider commonalities between the communities and explore the resources we’ve provided to learn more about Two Spirit and Queer Indigenous identities.

About This Challenge

This challenge stems from my workshop and presentation entitled, “A Journey in Rainbow Moccasins.” Often, I facilitate this activity in group circle as part of the workshop. The discussion allows for participants to bring up and create connections between themes and ideas surrounding intersectional identity. In these discussions, we always centre First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities and LGBTQ+ identities.

In these workshops, I incorporate both historical and modern perspectives of Two Spirit and/or Queer and Trans* Indigenous identities. I believe in the power of group discussion and learning from your peers, but I also know that for some folks, independent learning and research is not only valuable, but necessary. This activity can be done with friends and family, or you can do the activity on your own and challenge yourself to research and think beyond the ideas that come first to your mind - you may know more than you think! Understanding these identities and recognizing the importance of the many intersections between communities is so important for Reconciliation and decolonization. Colonization, in many contexts, enforced heteropatriarchy on many Indigenous cultures here and understanding the historical and contemporary impacts of this is crucial to being an ally to Indigenous and Queer, Trans* and Two Spirit communities. 


This activity meets folks where they are at in their own level of knowledge and understanding of these intersecting identities. It also encourages participants to begin thinking and of how they can create, develop and initialize 2-Spirit/QTIP (Queer/Trans* Indigenous People) supports and resources or how they can be more inclusive in their language and ways of communicating with others. This workshop encourages the importance of awareness, respect, compassion and kindness. I use humour, storytelling and shared knowledge with every circle, because crying is healing but so is laughter.

I believe there is a lot of power in doing your own reflecting and putting down on paper what you know and what you want to learn more about. This exercise asks you to think about and write about issues that may feel new to you or that you may want to learn more about. We’ve provided lots of resources on this page so you can do some independent learning. I encourage you to come back to this activity - maybe do the activity on your own at first, and then you can try it with friends or your class in small groups - and look for new connections as your understanding grows.

Queer, Transgender and Two Spirit folks are such important members of our communities - of our Canadian community, our Indigenous or racialised communities, and our LGBTQIA2S+ communities - but these folks might not always be understood or feel welcome. As allies and/or as members of some or all of these communities, we need to take responsibility for our own education and learn to be inclusive in all things that we do. No matter where you’re at in your own learning on these issues, I believe you will gain from taking this Rainbow Moccasins challenge and I encourage you to push yourself to really think about what it is or would be like to walk a mile in those moccasins.

To Complete the challenge: 

  1. First click the “accept challenge” button at the top of the page.
  2. Then, take a piece of paper, or if you can, use a whiteboard or chalkboard, and write the initialisms “LGBTQ2S+” on one side of the paper and “FNMI” on the other. As you may know, LGBTQ2S+ is a common initialism for different identities outside of cisgender and heterosexual that folks may attribute to themselves - it stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two Spirit and the “+” stands for additional identities that are part of this community. Some folks use different initialisms like LGBT+, LGBTQIA2S+, etc.  The Initialism “FNMI” is becoming more commonly used and it stands for First Nation, Métis and Inuit.
  3. After writing out the two initialisms, start to brainstorm different words or ideas or concepts that you know are related to one or the other. This is a word association activity and you can write down any words or ideas that come to you when thinking about these different identities that folks may attribute to themselves.
  4. Before starting this challenge you may want to look at some of the resources below to get your mind thinking about identity and how these difference communities are similar or how they intersect.
  5. When you’ve brainstormed all the different words and ideas for each initialism, take a minute and look for common themes or words that come up on both lists and circle them! If you’re an ally, or working towards becoming an ally, think about all the ways these communities are different and similar and how it might feel to be a member of one or both of these communities. If you’re a member of one or the other, think about how it might feel to be a member of the opposite community or both. If you’re a member of both communities, reflect on how and where your identities intersect and what about that brings you joy and what about it is challenging. Feel free to share your thoughts on social media with us using the hashtags #RainbowMocassinsChallenge or #Next150
  6. When you finish the activity and click the “complete challenge” button at the top of the page, you’ll be able to see one example of this challenge completed by some team members at Indian Horse.


 Video Resources

Podcast/Audio Resources

Articles, Explainers and Written Resources

Organizations for Support

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Teddy syrette
A challenge from:
Teddy Syrette

Teddy Syrette, Ozhawa Anaung Kwe (Yellow Star Woman) is a 2-Spirit Anishnabek person from Rankin Reserve of Batchewana First Nation. They are an advocate, artist and storyteller. They offer speaking engagements, workshops, presentations, often educating about and advocating on behalf of LGBTQIA2S communities.

"I challenge you to complete a Rainbow Moccasins word association activity to learn more about intersections between Two Spirit, Queer and Trans* and Indigenous communities!"

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