The SEIU-West Gender & Sexual Diversity Committee sponsored two delegates to attend the inaugural Trans Prairie Wellness Summit, which took place in Saskatoon in March. Below are the reports of the attendees.


Thanks to SEIU West and its Gender and Sexual Diversity Committee, I was able to attend the TransSask TransPrairie Wellness Summit on March 17 and 18, 2024. I didn’t know what to expect, besides hopefully, gaining further understanding about Transgender issues as well as insight that could help me be a better ally. I was not disappointed.

Elder Roland Duquette kicked off both days of the conference and there was a sweetgrass smudge available for all conference participants that wanted to smudge. There was an acknowledgment and celebration of all the neurodiverse people in the room. People brought fidgets and felt at home to get up and move around as needed. Care baskets were provided in the bathrooms and included gum, hair ties, deodorant, lotion, tissues, hair spray, condoms, etc. All ages were welcome and accommodated. High Noon Barber Shop sponsored the event and Women and Gender Equality Canada also gave support for the Summit. Conference topics were as follows:

  • Letting Go and Becoming with Alex Powlinsky and Lisa Halsal
  • Somatic Gendering with Ro Rose and Kota Rook
  • Time 4 Rights with Miki Mappin (A Timeline of Transgender rights in Saskatchewan)
  • Keynote Speakers Dr. James Makokis and Anthony Johnson
  • Documentary Major! A film about a Black, Transgender elder and activist
  • Story Time with j wallace skelton
  • Zines for Teens
  • Artist in Residence Creative Space achahkos
  • Anti-Opressive Sexual Health with Delilah Kamuhanda
  • Queer and Trans Family Planning with j wallace skelton
  • Sex Work: A Non-Binary Journey
  • Self-Expression and Authenticity Through Fashion with Aldeneil Espanola Jr. and Peace Akintade

TransSask really packed a lot in to those two days, as you can see. On the first day, there were two locations running stuff concurrently. It was impossible to get to everything. It was a huge amount of information and emotional content. One of the things that this conference really drove home through its content choices is the way in which Trans and Non-binary persons are systematically marginalized through intersections of patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism. The sessions got very granular about how this plays out in various spheres including our healthcare system. It also showed how other minority groups suffer from systematic marginalization.

The Summit highlighted how each person attending the conference has the opportunity to make space wherever they are for diversity. It did an excellent job finding knowledgeable speakers and exploring how our cultures create and police false binaries of gender, sexuality, and even primary (genitalia) and secondary sex characteristics (body hair, adam’s apples etc.) in service to patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism. Human bodies, minds and hearts do not fit into tidy, labelled boxes, but the systems we live in today encourage and enforce that.

I was so fired up and inspired by the Summit, that when I started back to work in my role as a CCA, I asked the nursing students’ supervisor if I could do a brief presentation to her class about gender and sexual diversity and the Summit I had just attended. She was enthusiastic about it and the presentation seemed well received. The Summit filled up my cup and re-ignited my passion for helping create a world where diversity is celebrated, not choked out. Thank you to SEIU-West and the Gender and Sexual Diversity Committee for making it possible for me to attend this event.



Embracing Diversity and Joy: Reflections on the Trans Prairie Wellness Summit

The Trans Prairie Wellness Summit 2024 stands out as a pivotal moment of enlightenment and empowerment in my journey towards learning more about the trans and non-binary community and the barriers they face. As a participant in this transformative event, put on by TransSask, I found myself immersed in a vibrant tapestry of experiences, each weaving together threads of diversity, resilience, and joy.

Central to the summit's ethos was a profound celebration of diversity. From the outset, it became evident that this was not merely a gathering of individuals but a convergence of identities, each uniquely beautiful and deserving of recognition. As someone navigating their own path within the gender spectrum, I was heartened by the inclusivity that permeated the summit, where BIPOC voices were amplified, and every individual found space to be seen and heard.

Among the myriad highlights of the summit, the prominence of Indigenous voices was particularly striking. Starting each day with Elder Roland with a smudging ceremony and his stories, served as a poignant reminder of the resilience and wisdom embedded within Indigenous cultures. Listening to the experiences and knowledge shared by Dr. James Makokis and Anthony Johnson on their journey as a queer Indigenous couple on The Amazing Race, the struggles that yielded and the opportunity to show these two identities to the world is the representation that people need to see.  Alex Powalinsky deepened my understanding of Indigenous histories, identities and the struggles of what that looks like in a society where people of multiple communities often don’t feel like they fully fit into one.  These people inspired and further fueled a commitment to stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities in their ongoing quest for justice and equality.

Educational workshops, such as the gender map from Somatic Gendering, provided practical tools and resources for promoting inclusivity, self-discovery and self-love. Discussions on family planning and healthcare access with J Skelton, sex work with Mars and self-care practices equipped attendees with actionable steps to create more welcoming environments for all. Additionally, learning about the Time 4 Rights Movement served as a powerful call to action, reigniting a commitment to advocacy and social justice in my own community and province.

Delilah Kumuhanda's presentation on Anti-Oppressive Sexual Health was a key highlight for me, challenging preconceptions and inspiring a vision of a more equitable society. Their insights into creating inclusive spaces for sexual health education provided a roadmap for fostering greater acceptance and understanding, further reinforcing the summit's commitment to inclusivity and empowerment. This presenter also had excellent examples of the systemic problems that queer and BIPOC experience within our societies which helped widen my understanding of how to better navigate these topics with peers and coworkers. 

As a settler working in medical imaging, the summit prompted a reevaluation of my role in creating inclusive spaces within my professional sphere. By prioritizing inclusivity and respect in my practice, I hope to contribute and educate new and old technologists to help aid the creation of a more affirming experience and the reduction of barriers for trans and non-binary people in their healthcare journey’s. Attending this summit gave me such valuable information that I was able to use for my presentation at SaskPoly, Affirming and Inclusive Care in Medical Imaging. As someone who has been in this industry for nearly a decade, it is refreshing and inspiring that we are finally having conversations like this. Passing the advocacy onto allies so trans people don’t need to carry the burden themselves. 

Amidst the discussions and presentations, the summit was infused with an overwhelming sense of queer joy. It was a celebration of shared experiences and identities, where laughter, hugs, and affirmations of mutual support were abundant. As we departed, we carried with us the warmth and positivity of these moments, fueled by the knowledge that together, we can create a world where everyone is free to live authentically and joyfully.

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