Sexual Wellbeing is Personal Wellbeing
Spotlight On The Medicine Bundle Project at the CBRC
Samira Karsiem, Jessy Dame, William Flett
August 15, 2023 • 4 Min Read
MindMapBC can help folks find affirming mental health support, but mental health only makes up one part of a person’s well-being. For Indigenous communities, personal well-being includes mind, body, and spirit, and all of these aspects are interconnected.
The Medicine Bundle Project, part of the Two-Spirit Program at the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC), was created by and for 2S/LGBTQ+ Indigenous community members, and offers a holistic and culturally relevant option for sexual health resources. Medicine bundles include items that support physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, and are unique to the person that carries it. The Medicine Bundle Project offers bundles that also focus on sexual wellbeing with the goal of bringing “sacredness back to sex.” Each Medicine Bundle includes: two HIV self-test kits, Indigenous medicines, sexual health supplies, and other helpful resources, based on community identified needs and preferences.
We connected with Jessy Dame, manager of the Two-Spirit Program and William Flett, Medicine Bundle coordinator at CBRC to learn more about the importance of the Medicine Bundle Project.
Q. Can you tell us more about the process of creating the Medicine Bundle Project?
The Medicine Bundle was made by and for the Two-Spirit, Queer, and Trans (2SQT) Indigenous community, with the goal of creating alternate pathways to testing and sexual health resources. Upon consultation with various 2SQT Indigenous community members throughout BC, it became clear that sex and non-heteronormative sex has cultural roots in many of the indigenous cultures across Turtle Island. We came to the consensus that we needed to approach our sexual health in a holistic manner, by combining our Sexual Health with our Cultural Health.
A Medicine Bundle contains items that are gathered and cared for, and it is personal to its carrier. This bundle is sacred to the person who receives it and contains items that support the carrier in their personal journey and development. The Medicine Bundles provided through the program help people engage with their health in a holistic way – mind, body, spirit, and sex.
Sex is sacred. The messaging sounds provocative at first, but those of us that are first stunned by the association have grown to truly believe it is a step in the right direction. This connection will encourage a lot of people to view our sex with the cultural respect it deserves and requires, and to have a healthier attitude towards our lives as 2SQT Indigenous People.
Q. In your own words, what does ‘bringing sacredness back to sex’ mean?
To think of sex as sacred, is to reignite everything that colonization has silenced out of us because it was taboo for their vision of society. Indigenous cultures have historic language to describe several genders, and several sexualities. Several Indigenous cultures believed your role and contributions to your family, community, and society were deeply connected to your identity. Your personal identity could also include your gender expression and sexual orientation.
The effects of colonization have stripped Indigenous people of countless cultural practices deemed ‘not-in-line’ with a Catholic vision for society. However, some Indigenous cultures have resisted and kept their teachings and practices quietly remembered. Several Indigenous cultures are now bringing those practices back and revitalizing them through stories and teachings.
Q. Are there any learnings from the Medicine Bundle Project that you’d like to highlight?
When developing a program to support a particular demographic or priority population, prioritize that demographic in as many stages of development as is possible. They deserve to always be at the decision-making table since they will be who is benefiting from whatever you want to accomplish. By valuing a "nothing about us without us" process, it becomes easier to achieve collaborative goals and you get to work with a supportive and excited team. Beautiful outcomes can come from working collaboratively like this, and it can be possible to achieve individual goals which once seemed impossible.
The MindMapBC team would like to thank the Jessy Dame, William Flett, and the Two-Spirit Program for sharing with us!
Interested in receiving a Medicine Bundle?
To be eligible, you need to identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, Métis) and live in BC. Visit the Medicine Bundle website to learn more.
Want to explore other Two-Spirit, Trans, and queer Indigenous resources?
Explore resources on MindMapBC, or read about Nanki Nezulne at Carrier-Sekani Family Services.