A Conversation With 2Spirit Chief Allan “Chicky” Polchies
Last fall, Allan "Chicky" Polchies was re-elected Chief of St Mary's Fist Nation, near Fredericton. In January, Geordy Marshall spoke with him.2021-02-28 • Geordy Marshall • St. Mary’s, NB
What has it been like being an open 2SLGBTQ+ person as Chief?
It’s been great. It’s given me a larger platform to speak on the 2spirit file. It has definitely improved the diversity in my community, giving the 2SLGBTQ+ youth in my community inspiration. I am proud to be giving that voice for them, bringing them inspiration and hope.
What has brought you on this journey to becoming Chief?
As a young fella, I was the type of person who would organize community events and various activities. Back in the day, we didn’t have the technology we have today, so we had to be very creative, and of course I always believed that 2Spirit people are very creative, so I helped the creator side come out with me. I was always involved, proud to be indigenous.
We grew up in the urban setting, so we didn’t get much of our language in, not like how it is today. But you know, I’ve always had a love for my community. When I grew up and graduated high school, I decided to move to Toronto and go to Fashion College there. I was able to find myself moving there in the gay village, where I was able to express who I truly was. After that I was able to come out to my family, after that I decided to move back home, so I could contribute back to my community.
I was able to work for chief Bear, and chief Candace during their terms, and gained an understanding of the process. My uncle and my grandfather were also chief, so it has always been in my family.
Did you always know you wanted to run for chief?
My late mom used to always tell me “you’re going to be chief one day,” or when I was younger “Doctor, Lawyer, or Chief, you have to marry one of those or become one of those” and ironically I am the Chief now. My mom always knew I was a born leader, and she knew I was going to be chief one day, she told me. And I wish she was here today to see it, but I know she’s watching over me.
What do you think it means for Indigenous people to have an open 2SLGBTQ+ person as chief?
It means lots of things. It means there’s open diversity; it means that there is a platform for 2SLGBTQ+ people’s voice to be heard.
Do you have any words for wisdom for the 2SLGBTQ+ youth?
Anything is possible. You really have to focus on your spirit. Your spirit will guide you. You know one of the good things about being 2spirit: when we feel like one of our spirits is being flickered at, or picked on or name called, the good thing is, we have another spirit to carry the positive side of our message. Your two spirits will remind you what a good person you are, how creative, and will remind you of the love you want to carry, of the respect, humility, and definitely the seven teachings. The message is to continue to believe in yourself, lift your head up high, and speak proudly of where you come from and who’s your family, and speak your language if you can. Just always be kind.
What was the election this year like?
COVID-1definitely put a different twist on the election. The original date was supposed to be in June, but the department of Indigenous services gave us an option due to COVID-19. So we chose to delay it for 5 months, and we had our election on November 16th. With that we just kept the social distancing, and wore masks indoors. Campaigning was optional and by appointment only. We did a drive-by rally gathering. There was still a good voter turn out despite COVID-19. COVID-19 didn’t disrupt the voter turn out, it was comparable to any other year.
What can you say about your 2Spirit voice?
I bring the 2Spirit voice to the table of the 35 chiefs of Atlantic Canada. When we talk about the MMIW, I’m always advocating for the Missing and Murdered Trans and 2spirit Men and Women.
Geordy Marshall is a freelance writer from Eskasoni, NS. He writes about Mi’kmaw and Two Spirit history and historic moments.