Partial Transcript: I’m here with Sharp? Is that what they call you?
Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Darryl Chippeway discusses the Two Spirit oral history project and obtains explicit oral consent for release and access from interviewee Sharp; Sharp mentions her top being a gift from a Two Spirit friend who died on World Aids Day in 2010.
Partial Transcript: It is my first gathering, I have been for a very long time interested in attending the international Gatherings more particularly when they were held in Canada, but life’s always gotten in the way.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp explains that they were interested in attending international Gatherings, but that life got in the way. Sharp talks about being the founder for Two Spirits in Motion.
Partial Transcript: I did. I’m a helper, “oskapewis,” that’s how I see myself, in my own community back in Ottawa. There’s some who will refer to me as a Knowledge Keeper or as an Elder.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp’s discusses designation as an Elder. Sharp explains the various perceptions of their status as a Knowledge Keeper and Elder. Sharp talks about World Pride in Toronto a few years ago and being recognized as an individual who paved the way for LGBTQ+ rights. Sharp came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in 1983. Sharp also describes themselves as a “female bodied individual” that dances “Men’s” style at Powwows and how they were put in contact with another individual from the States who is similar; reflects on community push back.
Partial Transcript: Well, I live in Ottawa, Ontario. I’m originally from Newfoundland.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp talks about living in Ottawa but being originally from Newfoundland. Sharp reflects on heritage being Sackfox and Cherokee. Sharp’s father is an American who was posted in Newfoundland with the military. While growing up knowing they were Indigenous, Sharp didn’t began to explore their culture until they moved to Ottawa and spoke to an Elder who knew their family. Sharp was connected with knowledgeable individuals through the Women’s Addiction Agency in 1993/94 after an intervention, and was connected to the Indigenous Veterans Group. Sharp mentions growing up as a Catholic and nearly becoming a Nun. Sharp was struck by lightning about twelve years ago and began dancing traditional Men’s style.
Partial Transcript: I like to describe myself as a recovering Catholic, because it’s almost like an addiction; it is so engrained. More of it is the guilt, feeling guilty about things – I’ve pretty much let go of the concept of Sin, which is good.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp’s discusses her relationship with religion and their time studying Religion in University.
Partial Transcript: So, I just want to say that you’ve been in Ottawa, Ontario, for... since the ‘90s? Early ‘90s?
Segment Synopsis: Sharp talks about living in Ottawa since 1992 and going back to Newfoundland. Sharp explains that they do visit but that none of their family of origin lives there anymore. Sharp explains that their siblings are in Ontario and Nova Scotia, while their dad is now in Ottawa.
Partial Transcript: Yeah. I do know that there are members of... my father’s extended family. I have cousins who fall under that umbrella.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp mentions having two cousins in the LGBTQ+ community and reflects on their own mother and father’s reception to Sharp’s coming out. Sharp’s father took it a lot better than their mother did.
Partial Transcript: Now? Um, I identify as an, “Ogokwe Inini,” which is an Ojibway term that literally translated means Wise Woman Man.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp identifies themselves as a “Wise Woman Man,” and explains the term; also reflects on their adopted child, who is transgendered and the way agencies and groups discuss gender. Sharp explains their interaction with a Catholic priest while at university who helped them understand their sexuality. At some point after 1990, Sharp heard the term Two spirit and began to explore the meaning of it and how it fit into their life as an identity. Sharp also reflects on the queer community and the divisions within it.
Partial Transcript: I have a very weird definition of community. I’m very involved with the HIV community, both locally, regionally, and nationally, that sort of thing, because I’ve done that work for a long time working in the HIV community.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp explains that their definition of community is not rigid and that they are heavily involved with the HIV, Indigenous, and Two Spirit communities.
Partial Transcript: I’ve been involved in HIV since the bad old days. I was a young baby dyke in the queer community when – I even remember when it was GRID: Gay Related Immune Deficiency, which was before they discovered the virus and gave it a name and I remember taking care of far too many of the guys and going to far too many funerals.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp talks about being involved with the HIV/AIDS community since the “bad old days.” Sharp attended many funerals even before leaving Newfoundland and then got a job in 2006 with the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy and reflects on their time there.
Partial Transcript: So, the Canadian government, I already told you a bit about my journey as a Two Spirit person, about going form lesbian to whatever the hell I am now. [laughs] The Canadian government had an official policy that required the purging or pushing out of, not only the military but also the federal public servants, who were gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp discusses the “military purge” that happened in Canada, which Sharp explains was a military and federal public service purge against LGBTQ+ individuals. Sharp also discusses their conflict while serving in the military with a superior who falsely reprimanded their service record over a falsified harassment claim. The charges were dropped in favour of Sharp after the individual was overheard saying that they wanted them out for being a member of the LGBTQ+ community. After the incident, an Elder recommended specific ceremony to Sharp and afterwards, Sharp was able to process their trauma.
Partial Transcript: I feel most safe in ceremony. I feel most safe with a drum in my hand, or an eagle feather in my hand, or my regalia on.
Segment Synopsis: Sharp says they feel most safe in ceremony; they feel most safe in places like the Two Spirit Gathering. Sharp also mentions feeling safe at their own lodge they built and how dancing men’s traditional at Powwows feel right.