Wanting to capture the essence of a Two Spirit relationship and decolonize homophobic attitudes, Saskatchewan-based producer, filmmaker, and photographer, Marcel Petit (Metis) created a photo essay of Two Spirit couple Warren Ibister (Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation) and Don Bear (Peter Ballantyne of Cree Nation) wearing traditional regalia in women’s Cree style.
According to Petit, “I like to shake things up, shake up what gender means and shake up the rules about what it means to be male and/or female,” says Petit. These are rules that were made up by old white men.”
When the photo essay debuted in the spring 2014 issue of Kimiwa Zine in spring 2014, Petit says his work was mostly supported. “There were some grumblings here and there, but for most part most of the public gave us nothing but great feedback. All three of us received tons of support from our own native communities and the LGBT community.”
Petit says his photo essay was inspired by the indigenous art website Kimiwan Zine, which features artwork and words by First Nations, Metis, and Inuit writers and artists.
Petit decided to explore empowering sexual identities, the representation of gender, and what it means to be a man and a woman. Petit photographed Ibister and Bear donning traditional Cree male and female regalia.
Petit says he’s proud of his work. . “It inspired all of us to keep pushing for equality for all, no matter who you are,” says Petit. “I hope I can do something like this again.”