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Alberta musician Shawnee Kish hopes her two-spirit story inspires youth to reclaim culture, identity

Click to play video: 'Alberta musician Shawnee Kish talks new EP and her Two Spirit journey' Alberta musician Shawnee Kish talks new EP and her Two Spirit journey
WATCH ABOVE: Indigenous artist Shawnee Kish joins Global News Morning Edmonton to talk about her upcoming release and her journey of self acceptance. – Jun 9, 2021

Edmonton-based musician Shawnee Kish says she spent the pandemic writing new music.

“I have an EP coming, it’s a six-track EP,” Kish said. “I believe music is very much medicine and this music was that for me entirely. I spent the lockdown time creating this new music and it’s this new chapter I’m so excited to share.”

Kish said she uses her music as a way to connect with others.

“I am Indigenous. I identify as two spirit, and it took me some time in my life to really honour and cherish those parts of me.

“There was a time in my life where I was closeted and I didn’t feel like I could be who I was as a two-spirit person.”

The term two spirit was created in the 1990s in Canada to describe those who are Indigenous and LGBTQ, but the concept has been a part of Indigenous culture for generations.

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“This is not a new tradition, has been celebrated and honoured by our ancestors,” Kish said. “As Indigenous people, we are reclaiming that tradition that was celebrated and honoured through our people.

“A two-spirit person walks and understands it’s a gift to be two spirit and understand both the feminine and the masculine world and spirits… (and) carrying both of those understandings.”

Read more: Alberta men begin walk to Ottawa to honour missing, murdered Indigenous women and girls

Kish is set to release her EP on June 25. It will be available to steam on major platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

The month holds duel significance for the release — Canadians celebrate June as Pride Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day is marked on June 21.

“It’s so important to us as Indigenous people to reclaim who we are,” Kish said. “To honour who we are, and to the outside community — non-Indigenous people — to share these conversations with younger people about Indigenous people and what has gone on in Canada and open up those conversations.”

Kish was also selected to curate an Indigenous Voices playlist by Amazon Music to bring more creators and musicians into the spotlight.

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Edmontonians will have the opportunity see Kish perform live this summer, at the Together Again concert series in August at the Racetrack Infield on the Edmonton Exhibition Lands (formerly Northlands Park) in central Edmonton.

Read more: Together Again outdoor concert series coming to Edmonton in August

She says she expects the experience to be emotional.

“I feel nervous because I feel like it’s been so long,” she said. “I’ve been performing for the past year and a half to my camera on my phone. To have people there…  there might even be tears for me on stage.

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“I am just so, so excited to be performing on a stage, with my band, this new music.”

The past several months have been eventful for Kish even beyond her music — in May, she married Edmonton Olympian Jen Kish in a ceremony officiated by NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

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