Amplify Diversity

  • When I say I’m two - spirit, I don’t think of it as I’m a man or I’m a woman, or I need some kind of magical surgery ... It has no thing to do with falling in love with anybody or anything. It has to do with the walk I’m going on, on this road.

    Ma - Nee Chacaby
  • My inspiration for this episode I chose my journey as a two - spirit person, this path that I’m on to discover who I am. I’m still figuring it out. I don’t have the answers. And to share that learning experience is intimidating


Episode 1


Mohawk songwriter Shawnee is a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community and identifies as Two-Spirit. Recently, Shawnee won the 2020 CBC Searchlight prize. She is passionate about supporting LGBTQ2S+ youth through her inspirational music and performances, but her journey to self-discovery and acceptance has been hard won. As Shawnee has said, “I remember growing up feeling ashamed of feeling a deeper connection with girls. As a kid I was secretive about it and my experiences. I tried so hard to cover up the person my spirit and inner self was begging me to be. This became a very sad time for me.” In this episode, Shawnee sets out to build a two-spirit lodge with other community members to come to a better understanding of who she really is, and just how expansive her gifts truly are.

The ceremony is led by Ma-Nee Chacaby, who is a two-spirit Ojibwa-Cree Elder, whose memoir, A Two-Spirit Journey, details the struggles of coming-out. She uses the term "two-spirit" to mean she carries both a male and a female spirit inside. Even though two-spirited individuals were important in pre-colonial Indigenous communities, Chacaby received intense backlash when she came out as lesbian over 30 years ago. As Ma-Nee has said, “My grandmother said, you have two spirits in your body, mind, soul and your heart. She says, you're going to have a hard life, a real tough life because of who you are. You're carrying two spirits, and people don't want to understand that. Then she said, way back, seven generations from the time she was a little girl, she had been told that there were two-spirit people that lived among First Nation people and nobody ever made fun of them. They were regarded as special people.”

The Team:
  • Director: Adam Garnet Jones, Jessica Fleming
  • Producer: Michelle St John
  • Producer: Jeremy Edwardes
  • Producer: Shane Belcourt
  • Executive Producer: Jim Compton
  • Executive Producer: R. Todd Ivey
  • Featuring: Shawnee
  • Featuring: Manee Chacaby
  • Featuring: Blu Waters
  • Featuring: Joce Tremblay
  • Cinematographer: Sean Stiller
  • Editor: Shane Belcourt
  • Sound and score: Anthony Wallace


Web Trailer

Mohawk songwriter Shawnee arrives at the Humber River where she joins Elder Ma-Nee Chacoby as they prepare the grounds for ceremony. Meanwhile, Joce Tremblay offers a prayer to a sapling that will be used to build the structure of the sweat lodge.

  • shawnee singer's face

Closer to Home

Watch the music video for Shawnee’s song Way Home. This music video was edited by Francis Laliberte.

  • cherryl


Songwriter Shawnee is accompanied by her music producer Matthew O'Rourke in the Jukasa studio as they walk through the songwriting and recording process for Way Home.


    A big soul voice lead by passion, an ambition of empowerment and inspiring through music the same way it has been her medicine. Billboard names Shawnee as one of their “Artists You Should Know" while MTV puts her on their list of their "Top Gender Bending Artists" as a Two Spirit person in music.

    Shawnee’s songs like 'Mirror Me' and 'Warrior Heart' have become anthems of hope and strength and were performed at this past NYC 50th Stonewall and the Prime Ministers Canada Day celebration. The singer/songwriters powerful voice is dynamic overwhelmingly captivating all the while it holds a level of depth and undeniable soul. ”Shawnee carries a unique charm" explains (Exclaim Magazine).

    As an outspoken advocate for her communities Shawnee leads her passion for music to help heal, working along side We Matter and Kids Help Phone.

    shawnee singing
  • Adam Garnet Jones

    Adam Garnet Jones (Cree/Métis/ Danish) is a Two-Spirit screenwriter, director, bead-worker and novelist from Edmonton Alberta.

    Although he had been making short films for quite some time, Adam came into his own as a filmmaker with the release of his first feature-length film, Fire Song, at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. Fire Song went on to win the Audience Choice Award at ImagineNATIVE, before picking up three more audience choice awards and two jury prizes for best film at other festivals. Before going into production, the script for “Fire Song” won the Writer’s Guild of Canada’s Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize.

    Adam has recently shifted his artistic practice away from writing and directing film and is focusing on writing fiction. His first novel, Fire Song (based on the film) was published in the spring of 2018. Publisher’s weekly called it “striking and remarkable” while the Globe and Mail said “Fire Song is unquestionably necessary . . . because of its subject matter, perspective and voice.” The book received a starred review from Kirkus, and was named an honour book from CODE’s Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Literature. It has topped innumerable "best of" lists of the year's LGBT YA literature in the US and Canada. This year, Adam has a story in the upcoming YA collection “Love After the End” edited by Joshua Whitehead and published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

    Adam is currently working to support Indigenous filmmakers at Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund as Lead - Indigenous Initiatives.

    shane belcourt
  • Jessica Lea Fleming

    Jessica Lea Fleming is of Métis and Scottish ancestry from Penetanguishene, Ontario. She is an award-winning filmmaker, published poet, producer and performer.

    Jessica creates in theatre, film and multi-disciplinary mediums as a means of exploring connection, identity and traditional, land-based knowledge. Her works have been presented internationally at festivals and events to critical acclaim. In 2015 she was a featured Leader for the Ontario Ministry on the Status of Women and in 2017 she was one of twenty Invited Contributors to the 20th Canadian Arts Summit. This year Jessica is the inaugural Artist-in-Residence at Theatre Aquarius, a Guest Curator for the Toronto Public Library, and was short-listed for Canada’s Prism Prize. She is currently creating two commissioned works for New Harlem Productions and Signal Theatre and developing a feature film script.


Closer to Home was recorded at Jukasa Recording Studio.

Jukasa Recording Studios is a multi-million dollar studio created for world-class and developing artists to make music in surroundings rich in spirit and tradition.

Address: 3326 6th Line, Ohsweken ON
Song producer: Matthew O’Rourke
Filming locations: Etienne Brule Park - City of Toronto