Seven-year-old boy wins jingle dance at community’s first two-spirit pow-wow
- EFN Staff
A mother’s unconditional love for her son who dared to stand out amongst others has sent a ripple effect of hope and inspiration to a community who hosted a one of a kind pow-wow celebration.
Cheyenne Gamble from the Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation (BOCN) said her son Alex Cameron Jr. was two-years-old when he became interested in girl’s clothing and make-up.
“He started wearing my shirts as dresses, [putting on] my make up, wanting his nails done, wearing my heels and my purses. I figured it was a phase he’d grow out of [but] five years later he is still the same,” she said. “I’ve known deep in my heart since he was able to talk and express himself that he identified himself as a girl. There is nothing in this world I would do to change him.”
Gamble said about three months ago was a time that she will never forget.
“We were coming home from Saskatoon and he yelled, ‘Mom, turn down the music. I need to tell you something.’ So, I did and he said, ‘Mom, when I grow up, I want a husband.’ We had a conversation about it and I reassured him that it was fine and that it’s okay,” Gamble said. “It was that moment where I realized I must be doing a good job because people live in fear and go almost their whole lives with this secret. My son casually tells me at 7-years-old.”
Alex Jr. danced in a memorial dance special at BOCN’s Revitalizing the Circle: Saskatchewan’s Two Spirit Powwow – a first of its kind held on First Nations lands in Canada. He wanted to express his identity by dancing girl’s jingle dance for the memorial special. Spectators were left in awe and judges picked him as the champion in the Bobby Mike Memorial Dance Special where they crowd’s applause was deafening. It was a triumphant moment that he will cherish forever.
“It was emotional. I didn’t expect this much support and acceptance,” said Gamble, who continuously wiped her tears after her son was picked as the champ.
She added that this kind of pow-wow is amazing and didn’t think it would ever be possible to see such thing in this day and age. It was the purpose of one of the pow-wow event organizers who wanted to ensure the two-spirit community felt that love, acceptance and pride.
“It’s important that when we celebrate pride as two spirit people, that we incorporate as much culture as possible,” said Kevin Seesequasis, co-chair of the Two Spirit Pow-wow Committee.
Seesequasis, who is also a BOCN councillor, said he would like to see his community host this kind of pow-wow celebration again but he hopes other communities will adopt the idea.
“My goal is to see it go to other communities,” he said. “I want to see other communities take up that role and demonstrate to their members that they are accepting, understanding and loving to two spirit individuals in their community.”
This year is Gamble and her son’s second year celebrating in Pride Day. It’s an annual momentous time they both embrace in together.
“It’s our special day to bond just him and I,” she said. “I will forever love him no different than how I love my girls…if he so happens to marry a man, so be it. I’ll be his biggest supporter until my last breath on this earth.”
The BOCN Two Spirit Pow-wow took place in Duck Lake on June 15th, 2019. BOCN made history three years ago, when it held its first Two-Spirit Pride Festival on First Nations lands.