Lavender Legacies Guide: Canada: Manitoba

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University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
University of Winnipeg Archives & Records Centre

University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

Address: 330 Elizabeth Dafoe Library
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB  R3T 2N2 Canada
Phone: (204) 474-9986
Fax: (204) 474-7913
Contacts: Shelley Sweeney, University Archivist, Head of Archives & Special Collections,, phone: (204) 474-6350
Brian Hubner, Acquisition and Access Archivist,, phone: (204) 474-7967
Brett Lougheed, Digital Archivist/Curator,, phone: (204) 474-8243
Graham Stinnett, Archival Assistant,

History: The University of Manitoba, Archives & Special Collections’ Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives was donated in 2008 by Ryan Shultz. The material began as an officially recognized archives in 1990 with the formation of the Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archives, operating from the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre in Osborne Village. The purpose of the archives was to “preserve the documentary, photographic, and electronic heritage of gay and lesbian Manitobans by: a) the maintenance and operation of an archive, and b) the support for research and study of this collection and other sources by scholars and the general public.” A small number of Resource Centre staff and volunteers were trained in archival practices through workshops hosted by the Association of Manitoba Archivists. The collection comprised of materials donated by Winnipeg gay organizations and individuals who played a role in forming the local history and community dating back to the late 1960s. In 1990 and 1992, two oral history projects (funded by the Provincial Archives of Manitoba) were undertaken to collect the stories of the community from the inter-war period up to the 1970s. These histories demonstrated the active collection policy of the archives and its attempt to document the legacy of the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community. In the early 2000’s the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre underwent a name change to the Rainbow Resource Centre which saw a disbanding of the archives and transfer of the materials to Ryan Shultz, a university librarian, to store until its donation to the University of Manitoba in 2008.

Current Holdings: Size and Content: The Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives collection is the result of concerted efforts by the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre (est. 1983) staff to compile records about Manitoba’s LGBTTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirit and Queer) history. The Archives, established in 1988, was overseen by the Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archives Committee, a group composed of academics, community members and activists. Primary objectives of the Archives was to preserve the documentary, photographic, and electronic heritage of gay and lesbian Manitobans and to support the research and study of such a collection by scholars and the public. This material was largely collected and accumulated from the donations of local Winnipeg LGBTTQ organizations dating back to the early 1970s. Organizations such as the University of Manitoba student organization Gays for Equality (est. 1973), the Oscar Wilde Memorial Society (est. 1980), Council on Homosexuality and Religion (est. 1978) and Project Lambda (est. 1977) figure prominently in the history of the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community, thus contributing a great deal to the archival content. The largely volunteer staff, namely Chris Vogel and Kenneth Steffenson, of the Resource Centre received archival training over a five year period from the Association of Manitoba Archivists. This training formed the accessioning and cataloguing of the archival material in an efficient and systematized way, leading to an established archival holding recognized by many professional associations and archives in Canada. The archival material was consistently expanded through an active collection policy which advertised in newspapers and gay journals asking the community for records, specifically in the form of oral interviews. An oral history project was undertaken in 1989 by the Resource Centre, through a sponsored grant from the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, to collect the histories of gay men and women who were active in Manitoba prior to 1970. This project provides an important example of the community response to maintaining a consistent record of LGBTTQ history in Manitoba. For scholars, the oral history project is an important groundwork which will be expanded with future efforts to continue to collect oral histories from the 1970s onward. The Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre was founded in 1983 by the concerted efforts of the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community to raise funds and establish a safe and friendly meeting space. As vocalized by Project Lambda, the goal was to 'provide counseling for gays, a medical centre, a library with positive gay literature, a book shop, a TV room, rooms for lectures and discussions as well as offices for gay organizations.' Fundraisers held at The Old Fellows' Temple on Kennedy Street by various organizations contributed to the realization of this goal. The original location of the Winnipeg Gay Centre was at 275 Sherbrook Street, next door to the gay community space/bar, Giovanni’s Room. The Centre officially began when the campus gay organization Gays for Equality relocated there. In July of 1988 the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre moved out of Giovanni’s Room to new offices at 222 Osborne Street. This new location made room for the growing archival collection and the intent to meet the community's needs. In September of 1999 the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre received a name change to Rainbow Resource Centre and relocated to 170 Scott Street.

This collection contains textual records relating to various issues and information on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirit and Queer history including: Comprehensive Works, Bibliography, Reference; Gay/Lesbian Life, Lifestyles & Concerns; Literature & Language; Visual & Performing Arts; History & Gay/Lesbian Liberation Movement; Behavioral Sciences; Social Sciences; Philosophy & Religion; Physical & Natural Sciences; and AIDS-Related Information.
Date of Accumulation: 1968-2003
Date of Creation: 1948-2003
13.8 m of textual records, 69 video cassettes, 117 photographs, 109 negatives, 488 slides, 97 audio cassettes, 33 t-shirts.

Collection Growth: The Archives and Special Collections is interested in building onto its Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives collection and has continued to do so by working with the University of Manitoba, Institute for the Humanities: LGBTTQ Oral History Initiative on a new round of electronic oral history interviews of the LGBTTQ community focusing on the 1980s and 1990s.  We accept donations relating to the material that is mentioned and associated with Manitoba LGBTTQ history and experience.

Access and Use:
1. The Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives are open to the public
2. Appointments to view material may be made via but material will be made available to researchers Monday to Friday 8:30-4:30pm.
3. Wheelchair accessible
1. Research space
2. Reference assistance on site
3. Telephone reference
4. Internet reference (e-mail/web)
5. Copying services
6. Audiovisual facilities
7. Exhibitions Loan agreements for exhibits: Under advisement.

Indices to the collections: All finding aid materials are available online via Archives and Special Collections website listed under Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives, utilizing the AtoM database.
Digital collections will be made available online in the coming months through Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) via our website.

Updating Collection Descriptions: We have had only one addition to the archives since it went public in 2010, a donation of the electronic oral histories from the LGBTTQ Oral History Initiative for which we had a presentation and public opening to demonstrate the addition to the collection.

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University of Winnipeg Archives and Records Centre

Address: University of Winnipeg Library
515 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3B 2E9
Email: Brett Lougheed, University Archivist/Digital Curator -
Phone: (204) 786-9914

The University Archives and Records Centre was established by resolution of the Board of Regents, July 1, 2001. The Archives and Records Centre has responsibility for all decisions affecting the retention and disposition of inactive University records regardless of format. The Archives provides access, advice, policy recommendations and program implementation with respect to the management of recorded information, including records that are no longer actively employed in the office of origin.

Our collection mandate is to document the history of the University of Winnipeg, the local community, as well as aspects of Manitoba history relevant to research at the University of Winnipeg, including social justice and human rights. We are acquiring a growing number of records and manuscripts of individuals, families, and organizations to fulfill this mandate.

The University Archives Policy is available here:

Current Holdings: Size and Content

Two-Spirited Collection
Dates: 1983-2013
Extent: 25 cm of textual records. -- 1 scrapbook. -- 165 photographs. -- 21 slides. --- 1 cm of drawings and prints. -- 7 oversize posters. -- 4 books. -- 4 videocassettes. -- 6 cm textiles and ephemera. –- 1 DVD with 330 photographs.

History: The term two-spirit does not have one rigid meaning, but instead has multiple contemporary definitions. Often the term two-spirit is used to refer to an Indigenous person who identifies as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer). Some consider Indigenous people who have both a feminine and masculine spirit to be two-spirit, and the term can be used by individuals to refer to their gender, sexual and/or spiritual identity. For others, it denotes an Indigenous person who embodies both traditional male and traditional female gender roles, and identifies with the LGBTQ community. For some, two-spirit is not an identity but a cultural role. The term two-spirit was created as an attempt to bridge contemporary understandings with past understandings of LGBT roles and identities. Traditionally, in most Indigenous nations, people who embodied both male and female spirits, or a third gender, were highly regarded and held important, and often sacred, cultural roles within their society.

In 1990, the term two-spirit was established in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the Third Native American/First Nations Gay and Lesbian Conference by activist Albert McLeod and others. With the belief that naming is a political act, which enables discussion and exploration, the group created the term to reconnect with Indigenous traditional views related to gender and sexual identity, to emphasize the fluidity of identity creation, to fight against colonialism and Euro-centric categorization of sex and gender identities, and to unite Indigenous LGBT people.

Since the mid-1970s, Indigenous gay and lesbian organizations have sprung up across North America, and major growth has been seen since 1988. Two-spirit organizations and gatherings were created in order to connect two-spirit individuals and offer a network of support, understanding, and advocacy. These organizations and gatherings seek to address and change the social stigma two-spirit people face due to pervasive racism and homophobia. The latter of which exists in both their local communities and society more broadly. The Basket and the Bow: A Gathering of Lesbian & Gay Native Americans held in Minneapolis in 1988 marked the first gathering of two-spirit people, and was attended by eleven delegates from Winnipeg. Events from the gathering were recorded in Mona Smith’s 1990 video, Honoured by the Moon. Two-spirit gatherings and conventions often contain workshops, as well as sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies, sharing circles, elders, a pow-wow, smudgings and traditional crafts and singing. Often they are held outside of urban centers and are alcohol and drug free events. The high rates of suicide and HIV-AIDS rates within the two-spirit community are often major discussion topics at the gatherings.

Albert McLeod, one of the Two-Spirited Movement’s most active and visible members, collected the Two-Spirited Collection. Albert McLeod is Metis, descended from Cree and Scottish families, and identifies as a two-spirited, gay male. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was raised in Cormorant and The Pas in northern Manitoba, and currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since 1986, McLeod has been actively involved in the Two-Spirit Movement, and as a human rights advocate. He has actively advocated for the rights of Aboriginal LGBTQ people, has pushed for their visible and meaningful inclusion in the Canadian Aboriginal Movement and the LGBT Liberation Movement, and has fought against pervasive homophobia and racism. He co-founded a number of organizations devoted to improving the life of two-spirit people by advocating for education, housing, health services, employment training and cultural development. He co-founded the Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Task Force and was its Project Manager from 1991-2001; he co-founded the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS network in 1997; and is one of the co-founders of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba Inc., established in 2006. He has helped co-ordinate a number of two-spirit conferences and gatherings as a way to enable two-spirited people to meet with each other in a safe, encouraging environment where traditional cultural practices are integrated with educational workshops. He is also an experienced crafter who creates both traditional regalia and couture dresses. He is currently working for the 595 Prevention Team as a Community Development Coordinator, and as a free-lance educator devoted to Indigenous cultural reclamation, textile art and community development.

Scope and content: The collection is arranged into seven series. The first series consists of published textual materials related to the Two-Spirited Movement, including books, journals and magazines, newsletters from two-spirited organizations, reports and pamphlets on AIDS, reports and articles on the Two-Spirited Movement, and newspaper clippings. Materials were published predominately from 1990 to 1996 and were created in both the United States and Canada, but were predominately created in Manitoba.

The second series contains non-published textual records related to the Two-Spirit Movement, including obituaries and memorial service programs for two-spirited Manitobans, drafts of poems written by a number of two-spirited individuals, and correspondence mainly addressed to Albert McLeod or the organizations he co-founded and pertaining to the creation or description of two-spirited organizations. The materials were created from 1988-2008, but predominately from 1990 to 1996.

The third series contains records from various two-spirited organizations and gatherings in North America, including programs, budgets, notices of gatherings and conferences, as well as mandates, meeting minutes and job postings of many two-spirited organizations.

The fourth series is comprised of graphic material including 9 photographs, 3 prints and drawings, and 7 posters. Much of the photographs are printed in colour on computer paper and show two-spirited people at gatherings, likely held in either Vancouver or Manitoba. Many of the posters display colour photographs, and are likely from a 2007 campaign promoting condom use among two-spirited people, while others advertise gatherings. The series also includes 330 images on DVD of the 22nd Annual Two-Spirit Gathering 2010, three t-shirts and one embroidery. Two ribbons and a painted rock from the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission sharing circle in 2010 are also included in this series.

The fifth series is comprised of a scrapbook, which contains a variety of both graphic and textual materials, including 149 photographs, as well as newspaper and magazine clippings, gathering notices, and poetry related to the Two-Spirit Movement in Manitoba and across North America. The photographs consist mostly of unidentified people related to the Two-Spirit Movement in Manitoba, but also two-spirited gatherings like the Basket and the Bow, Spirituality in the ‘90’s, and Two-Spirits and HIV in New York City. Items contained in the scrapbook predominately date from 1988 to 1993.

The sixth series is comprised of both graphic and textual materials in a variety of formats related to textile and clothing research. Graphic materials include 7 photographs, 14 pages of photocopied drawings, 1 painting and 1 magazine clipping. Textual material includes drafts and notes on Indigenous clothing and adornment by Albert McLeod written in 1988, and photocopies of published articles.

The seventh series consists of four films. One of those films, produced in 1990 by Mona Smith for the Minnesota American Indian AIDS Task Force, is Honored by the Moon - a documentary on gay and lesbian Indigenous people and their place within their community historically and presently. It contains footage of interviews and gatherings. Also included in this series is unedited film from the Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Conference in 1992, PTAM Dress Rehearsal Shoot in the early 1990s, and Passing of the Legacy in Vancouver in July 2002.

Collection Growth

The University of Winnipeg Archives and Records Centre welcomes the addition of LGBTTQ resources, particularly as they pertain to the Two-Spirited Movement and to organizations and individuals affiliated with the University of Winnipeg and Winnipeg's downtown core area.

Access and Use

Physical Access: Please refer to the Archives and Records Centre User Policy prior to visiting our facilities ( There are no additional access or use conditions applied to our LGBTTQ material. Our hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30. Appointments are not required but are preferred. Our site is wheelchair accessible. Please refer to the About Us page on our website ( for more information on how to access our facilities.

Research space
Reference assistance on site
Telephone reference
Internet reference (email/web)
Copying services
Other: Digitization services

Indices: A fonds-level finding aid, compliant with the Rules for Archival Description, is available online via the Manitoba Archival Information Network at

Updating Collection Descriptions: Any additions to our LGBTTQ collections will be described and finding aids will be created/revised on the Manitoba Archival Information Network to facilitate access. In addition, the University of Winnipeg Archives and Records Centre's Facebook and Twitter accounts would notify followers of any new accruals or acquisitions of LGBTTQ material. The University of Winnipeg's Marketing and Communications office may also be notified of the acquisition of new LGBTTQ materials to notify media outlets about the acquisition. This page would also be updated when required.

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