Divina Nicole is the first transgender Indigenous business owner on the GaspÃ© coast. In a portrait booklet created earlier this year, she shares her coming out story.
The booklet is called Celebrate Two Spirit identities. Bright colors dominate the cover, with an outline of a Mi’kmaq dream catcher filling the page. Inside are portraits of Two-Spirit people from Gesgapegiag and Listuguj, along with testimonies of what it is to find and live your truth.
In her portrait, Nicole smiles confidently at the camera. She embodies the goal behind the booklet: to celebrate and empower Two-Spirit people.
âI am at a point in my life now where I know who I am and what I am,â she said in an interview with CBC Montreal Let’s go host Sabrina Marandola.
LISTEN: Divina Nicole and Sima Youssef discuss the creation of their portrait booklet.
Let’s go14:59A new project that aims to empower people who identify as Two-Spirit
Nicole is Mi’kmaq and lives on the Gesgapegiag First Nation reserve. She explained that identifying as gay or two-spirited may be frowned upon in her community, but historically this hasn’t always been the case.
She hopes readers identify with her story and the stories of other people in the booklet.
âBy reading our stuff, they can get a feel for what it’s going to be,â Nicole said.
These stories resonate locally and across Canada. Sima Youssef, who helped with the project, said hundreds of copies circulated in the South Shore of GaspÃ© alone. They even found their way into local high schools.
She said this adoption helps the community recognize the presence of Two-Spirit people around them.
“He has reached many age groups,” she said. “I got such great feedback from people.”
Nicole also hears from people from the rest of Canada. They find her on social media, share their own coming out experiences and express their joy at finding this new connection.
Youssef, who identifies as a pansexual cisgender woman, said her experience helping with the book was life changing.
“I learned so much from the participants about how to be proud and courageous with your story and who you are.”
They plan to turn the booklet into a podcast. But until then, Nicole and Youssef are looking to other projects. Youssef undertakes an adult education project in the Cree Nation. Nicole hopes to open a spa on the GaspÃ© coast.
The booklet is accessible here, or by communicating directly with LGBT + Baie-des-Chaleurs.