2SLGBTQIA+ students at Trent University will be further supported thanks to new programming led through the First Peoples House of Learning (FPHL). Bridging the gap between gender, sexuality, and Indigeneity, FPHL continues to work to ensure that Indigenous students at Trent have the support that they need when they’re navigating what gender and sexuality mean to them, and how it connects with their community roles at the University and beyond.
Recent Indigenous Studies graduate, Angeni Lovelady ‘16, coordinates programming for Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer students – looking to create opportunities and environments that welcome students to discover themselves and find a sense of belonging at Trent.
“We focus on programming and making sure students have a place to connect with each other, with elders, and community support,” says Angeni. “We also want to look at the details of what is being taught about two-spiritedness. How are people defining two-spiritedness and what lens are we looking at gender through?”
“This programming is critical for creating community for Two-Spirit students, staff, and faculty,” says Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, director of FPHL. “The work Angeni is doing expands beyond the typical - we are no longer only carving out room for diverse gender identities in physical ways such as the creation of a lounge or the use of flags on office doors to identify safe spaces, or in a time limited ways such as hosting a sharing circle to provide a small chunk of time for a supportive environment. Angeni’s work is about changing the entire institution to be more understanding and supportive.”
Building understanding throughout the Trent community
When Angeni first came to study at Trent, they knew their passion lay with supporting Indigenous youth. What originally started as a goal to become a teacher soon shifted towards being a Two-Spirit mentor as they learned more about themselves – in large part thanks to people Angeni met at Trent.
“Seeing these roles pop up in different community organizations and at universities in Canada is amazing – I'm excited to see what it can grow,” says Angeni. “This is new – we're building it from the ground up, but that means the sky’s the limit.”
Dr. Lavell-Harvard shares that the building of that foundation of knowledge around Two-Spiritedness begins by teaching the faculty at Trent who will incorporate this knowledge into their curriculum with students.
"Two-Spirit identities have a long history among Indigenous nations creating a continuum, covering a spectrum of diverse identities that do not fit into the little boxes of binary thinking. The more we understand, the better we are at making sure all of our identities are respected and embraced here. All of these pieces play together into what we’re trying to do to create a truly inclusive campus.”
Accessing support and community
Angeni hopes that by holding this role, everyone who interacts with the University will experience a level of growth in knowledge around two-spiritedness and provide further access to students to connect with their culture and identity.
“What it boils down to is just making sure that they have access to whatever will support them through their journey,” explains Angeni. “Whether they’re just starting or already on their way to figuring out who they are.”