Peml’ka’t Ala Newt Piskaqn

Posted June 5, 2018 by C.K. Ajig

Before you start reading, here are some defintions and terms that will help you throughout this posting...

 

Peml’ka’t Ala Newt Piskaqn [Beml--ga-t, A-la, Neh-oot, Bisk ga-han, *roll han in the back of your throat*]

Dunda - [Say as it looks] Grandfather

Mi’kmaq [Mi-g Maw]

Two-Spirit - A term reserved for Aboriginals, who do not identify with CIs-heteronormative perceptions of gender and sexuality. Each nation and tribe hold their own definitions for the word, and it also varies to the specific individual.

Listuguj - [List-uh-gush] A Mi’kmaq reservation on the border of Québec and New Brunswick, across the river from Campbellton, NB

 

Since the day I could walk on my own two feet I have been known as Peml’ka’t Ala Newt Piskaqn; Walks Along With One Sock. This name was not only a cute little title, but it was how my Dunda read my soul, and how all others would know my spirit. I was the little Mi’kmaq sprout who refused to conform to both my feet being in socks. I was also the one who stood on both sides of the world - a world of socks, and a world of bare feet. This was the origin of everything I was to become, and who I am meant to be. As ready as I was to let my spirit shine to the rest of the world, I quickly realized that the world was not quite ready for all of me.

 

In order to truly own the name Peml’ka’t Ala Newt Piskaqn (or Pisk for short), it needed to be presented as someone who was; relatable, yet unknown; boisterous, but calming; wind and earth; male and female. The only way to be Pisk, was to be two-spirit.

 

Growing up in Cambridge, Ontario, I never knew that was how I identified. To naturally fall on the border of the feminine and masculine never felt out of place for me as a young child, all thanks to my mother. She always allowed me to dress the way I wanted, and participate in the activities that I was passionate about, no matter the gendered stereotypes society attached to them. She believed that I was strong enough to follow my own path and live the way I wanted, as long as I was fully clothed and true to myself.

 

This beautiful and whimsical way of living can never stay the same forever, especially going through puberty. As I began moving into the higher grades of elementary school, then into middle school, I began to notice that all those around me were becoming more and more concerned with their outward appearances, and how it corresponded with their physical features. Girls wore skirts, and dresses, all dolled out in pink. Boys wore shorts, and t-shirts, all decked out in blue. We were all moving past the stages of just wearing what we wanted to play in, to wearing what we were supposed to in order to be presentable. It all began to matter.

 

As much as I did have a fondness for the pink dresses, I also had a fondness for the blue t-shirts. In order to satisfy my peers around me, and reduce the ridicule I received for being a ‘tomboy’, I began hyper-feminizing myself. There were days where I found it amusing, but there were many that I found myself becoming extremely uncomfortable with the restrictions I was placing on myself. The masculine spirit within me was suffocating and was desperately seeking the room he needed to breathe.

 

When middle school hit, that’s when he decided to flourish. He broke free of his chains, but in turn began burying the feminine instead. Those two years of my life I had believed, and felt myself to be a transman. It was during this time that I had faced the most turmoil - feeling lost in a world where I felt I didn’t belong. I had become so strung up on my outward appearances matching my physical traits, as well as my spirit, that I found nothing felt in place. I was swimming in a sea that I couldn’t float in, and instead began to flounder around in a desperate need to survive. Until a rescue floater was tossed my way through the waves.

 

A boy - who claimed to be bisexual but we all knew was gay - came into my life right when I needed a friend to lean on. Together we withstood the storm and carried ourselves through middle school and into high school where we found the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). Although I never had any qualms about my sexuality, or a need to reconcile my admirations for any gender, I still managed to find peace here at the GSA. I was among people who also felt outside of the societal norms, and that alone was able to calm the waters inside my mind enough for me to begin to find some sort of peace with myself - although it wasn’t complete peace.

 

It was through this club however that I was given the chance to explore the materials the staff had available for the club members regarding non-cisgender identities. Here is where I was introduced to a very small pamphlet on what it meant to be Two-Spirit. The synchronization I had with this identity was instantaneous. It resolved the turbulent sea in my mind and allowed me the chance to celebrate that I was not outside the norm, but that there was no norm to begin with. I would finish my high school career proud of who I was and how I identified, regardless of whether or not my peers understood what that meant.

 

After years of research, and self-exploration, I was thrilled to return back to my reservation - Listuguj, Québec - after highschool to share my experiences, and identity with my friends and family. However I was not met with open arms. I was instead met with very close-minded, Christianized, colonialized, cis-heteronormative views that the rest of surrounding society believed and followed. It was devastating to face. Just as my spirit was ready to shine bright with the pride of myself and my reservation, they were not quite ready for all of me.

 

The next couple years that followed I worked hard at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, NB, to gather all the research I could to help guide myself in ways to wake up my reservation. Show them the truth that they have been shrouded from, and bring back the independence they will need to flourish as a Nation. Show them not only on our cultural views on gender, sexuality, and the roles we all took, but the steps we need to take - and the conversations we need to be having - in order to resolve the major issues Indigenous people are facing while living under the Canadian Government. Show them we do not belong under the Canadian Government, but beside them, as equals.

 

Having lived off of reservation for a good chunk of my life, but having such strong ties to my culture, and Listuguj, I am able to see things from an all encompassing perspective. I am on both sides of the line, and from here I am able to get a different perspective. I want to allow that insight to my friends, family, and other Indigenous people around the country. I am Peml’ka’t Ala Newt Piskaqn, and I hope to be another step in the right direction.

 

*Note: The spelling and grammar of all Mi’kmaq words derive from both the Gaspe Quebec and Nova Scotian dialects/spelling.*

 

Peml’ka’t Ala Newt Piskaqn [Beml--ga-t, A-la, Neh-oot, Bisk ga-han, *roll han in the back of your throat*]

Dunda - [Say as it looks] Grandfather

Mi’kmaq [Mi-g Maw]

Two-Spirit - A term reserved for Aboriginals, who do not identify with CIs-heteronormative perceptions of gender and sexuality. Each nation and tribe hold their own definitions for the word, and it also varies to the specific individual.

Listuguj - [List-uh-gush] A Mi’kmaq reservation on the border of Québec and New Brunswick, across the river from Campbellton, NB

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