Vibrant colours of the rainbow were painted on Maskwacis’ main thoroughfare, making it the first rainbow crosswalk in a First Nations community in Alberta.

Chevi Rabbit, founder of the Maskwacis Two-Spirit Committee, felt compelled to organize the initiative to help create a safe space for the community.

“It represents that we are a safe, inclusive and tolerant community,” she said.

Several members of the community lent a helping hand to paint the bright crosswalk Wednesday afternoon.

She spoke to many LGBTQ2S+ advocates in Alberta, and to her knowledge, no other Indigenous community had painted a rainbow crosswalk. She believes this may also be the first in Canada.

“When I thought about it, I thought, ‘Of course this is the first time, because so many First Nation communities are dealing with trauma from residential schools and a lot of them don’t even have proper roads,’” she said.

She wanted the crosswalk to be highly visible, choosing to have it painted in front of the Samson Cree Nation Administration building, which is on Highway 611 near Highway 2A.

Return of the Two-Spirit culture 

Those who are in touch with the masculine and feminine sides and can see the world from both perspectives are considered Two-Spirit, according to Rabbit.

She said in the past, Two-Spirit people were marginalized.

“When colonialization happened, Two-Spirit people were oppressed and silenced and it feels like a reemergence of Two-Spirit identities within First Nations communities,” she said.

She added it is important to let those who drive or walk by the new rainbow crosswalk recognize that there are Two-Spirit people in the community and there is a safe space for them.