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In The Spotlight

Check out these Indigenous youth who are gender equality trailblazers, proudly pursuing their passions, in the spotlights below or submit your own story here to tell us what you’re doing to advocate for gender equality!

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Cris Derksen

Cris Derksen is an internationally respected cellist and composer, originally from northern Alberta. Cris represents a challenge to a world intent on labelling and slotting everything—including music, people, and cultures—into simple categories. She comes from a line of chiefs from NorthTall Cree Reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s side. Derksen’s music weaves together classical, Indigenous, and electronic influences to create and play genre-defying music.

In addition to playing, Derksen is also busy composing: in 2019, her compositions included Maada’ookii Songlines- a mass choral piece for 250 singers; Rebellion - a short symphonic piece commissioned by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra; and new performance art piece, Ikumagiiali, commissioned by the National Art Gallery of Canada.

T’ácháy (Tunchai) Redvers

T’ácháy (Tunchai) Redvers (she/they) is a two-spirit Dene-Métis 27-year-old activist, artist and advocate. She and her brother co-founded the We Matter campaign to create a space for Indigenous voices to address hope despite facing hard times. Redvers is constantly taking action to empower Indigenous youth and give them hope, which is important because everyone should feel valuable and confident.

Tunchai grew up in the Treaty Eight Northwest Territories in Canada. She belongs to Deninu K’ue First Nation. Tunchai earned her degree at the University of Guelph, and has since earned the title of one of the Top Ten Drivers for Change in Canada by MTV and We Day. She also received the Lawson Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Award.

Tunchai released a book of short poems and prose titled Fireweed (released in Summer 2019). Redvers uses the hashtag #Indigenouslit on her Instagram posts to describe the type of writing in her book. She writes to inspire all young women, particularly Indigenous women and gender diverse folks. Redvers’ book Fireweed expresses her ideas about healing, hope, and empowerment.

Kiley May

Kiley May is a Hotinonshón:ni Mohawk and Cayuga storyteller, actor, screenwriter, artist, and youth educator. She is also an author of the upcoming book How To Love A Trans Girl. She identifies as a transgender, queer, and two-spirit woman and uses the pronouns “they” and “she”. May also uses the term “kaleidoscope identity” to describe her gender and sexual identity. Raised on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory reserve, Kiley now lives in Toronto, where they work with various LGBTQ organizations promoting positive discussions about gender identity and sexual health.

As an emerging screenwriter and filmmaker, Kiley is working on creating scripts and roles for Indigenous and transgender women, focusing on positive, empowering and authentic portrayals. This reflects her passion about representation and diversity.

She has a recurring role as assistant pathologist River Baitz on the hit CBC show Coroner and has recently appeared in IT Chapter Two (New Line Cinema), Woman Dress (National Film Board of Canada) and the upcoming Queer Haircuts For Everyone (Shaftesbury).

As part of their outreach work, May leads free art workshops for members of the Indigenous two-spirit community, and works with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network helping facilitate talks at schools and reserves. Pride Toronto named May its 2017 Youth Ambassador for their community work.

Gina Metallic

Gina Metallic is a Mi’gmaq Two-Spirit social justice warrior from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Quebec. She is a granddaughter, daughter, sister, auntie, partner and step-parent to two wonderful children.

Gina obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Educational & Counselling Psychology at McGill University, later to obtain a Master of Social Work in Community Development from McGill. Her graduate work focused on Indigenous LGBTQ-Two Spirit identity development while utilizing her own ‘coming in’ journey, and exploring the intersectionality between being Queer, Indigenous and a hyper-feminine womyn.

Gina is a five-time scholarship recipient of the Foundation for the Advancement of Aboriginal Youth (FAAY), now known as Indspire; a Canadian Indigenous scholarship program. She is also a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, an award given to the top 15% of students, which was attained during her MSW graduating year.

In 2013, Gina won the Listuguj Role Model Award, which included having posters of the winner’s photo and some information about them made and distributed throughout the community, including health clinics, schools and community centres. In June 2017, Gina was invited to speak at the SSHS graduation ceremony and used this as an opportunity to talk about gender and sexual diversity.

Outside of work, Gina has been a guest speaker and workshop facilitator on the topic of Two Spirit issues, Indigenous Cultural Safety and Indigenous Child Welfare practices. She has spoken at the Annual Pierre Elliott Trudeau Conferences, the RCMP National Headquarters, 2017 Canada Pride, Canadian colleges and universities, and multiple Indigenous organizations & schools. She also has been a guest writer for the Montreal Gazette and has appeared on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) for the series “Working it Out Together” Season 3, on the topic of Child Welfare and Two Spirit Gifts. In addition, Gina was featured on an episode of "Sexplora", an Radio Canada television series, speaking on the topic of Two Spirit identity. Currently, she sits on the Indigenous Council with Pearson Canada for Exploring Society: A Canadian Perspective textbook, wherein she contributes to providing an Indigenous lens to all subject matters.

Gina is dedicated to community activism on the topic of Queer and Trans Indigenous people. She utilizes her own experiences to draw on themes that the Two Spirit LGBTQ community faces. Gina has said: “I have realized that “gay pride” and “native pride” can coexist. Being two-spirit empowers me to take agency over my body, my sexuality, my gender and my culture. My name is Gina Metallic, and my identity is an act of resistance.” Gina currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a Registered Social Worker through the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

Submit your own story to tell us what you’re doing to advocate for gender equality! And check out other advocates and their roll in gender equality

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