This week, we’d like to introduce you to Ma-Nee Chacaby, a courageous two-spirited Ojibwa-Cree woman. Ma- Nee Chacaby grew up in a remote Ojibwa community, where she learned cultural and spiritual traditions from her elders. But she also experienced severe poverty, alcoholism, and years of sexual abuse. Her book – A Two-Spirit Journey is Ma-Nee Chacaby’s extraordinary account of her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. From her early, often harrowing memories of life and abuse in a remote Ojibwa community riven by poverty and alcoholism, Chacaby’s story is one of enduring and ultimately overcoming the social, economic, and health legacies of colonialism.
As a child, Chacaby learned spiritual and cultural traditions from her Cree grandmother and trapping, hunting, and bush survival skills from her Ojibwa stepfather. She also suffered physical and sexual abuse by different adults, and in her teen years became alcoholic herself. At 20, Chacaby moved to Thunder Bay with her children to escape an abusive marriage. Abuse, compounded by racism, continued, but Chacaby found supports to help herself and others. Over the following decades, she achieved sobriety; trained and worked as an alcoholism counsellor; raised her children and fostered many others; learned to live with visual impairment; and came out as a lesbian. In 2013, Chacaby led the first gay pride parade in Thunder Bay.
Ma-Nee Chacaby has emerged from hardship grounded in faith, compassion, humor, and resilience. Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people.
Ma-Nee is a storyteller, a healer, a mentor for two-spirited youth, a teacher, a writer, a painter, and a respected Elder. Find out more about Ma-Nee, her life, her work, and her book here: http://ma-nee.art
And you can listen to an interview with Ma-Nee on one of our favourite podcasts, Wisdom at Work (formerly Grandmothers on the Move): click here Ma-Nee Chacaby