“A Two-Spirit Journey” Review

The author Ma-Nee is shown on the front cover dressed in native style holding a drum in her hands. She is looking up off in the distance. Her shirt is blue with stripes of green and red on her chest. There are ribbons attached to the stripes. She is wearing a beaded necklace that circles her neck multiple times.Full Title: “A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder”
Written by Ma-Nee Chacaby, with Mary Louisa Plummer
Published by University of Manitoba Press, April 2016
256 pages
Completed August 22, 2023

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 twenty, 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, humour, and resilience. Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people.

This one was a hard read especially during Ma-Nee’s childhood and teenage years. So much happened to her during that time. The only bright spot was her grandmother. I did enjoy reading about her later years and the work she did to help others. I also enjoyed the explanation of the writing process that was provided at the end of the book.