Barbara Bruce, O.M.
Barbara Bruce is an entrepreneur and Elder who has spent her life working with and for the Métis Nation and First Nations communities. Early in her career, Bruce worked for several years with the Manitoba Metis Federation, including a term as executive director. In 2009, she launched her own planning and consulting firm, All My Relations Inc., focused on curriculum development, facilitation and events coordination for Indigenous cultural awareness and community-building. Bruce has served on more than two dozen boards of directors and was directly involved in planning national events for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Bruce is a two-spirit Elder who follows her traditional spiritual way of life.
Bruce understands that colonization in Canada has affected how Indigenous people communicate about sexuality and sexual health. Canada, and various churches, imposed Euro-Christian values on Indigenous communities throughout the Indian Residential School era, resulting in a lack of factual sexual health information free of bias and discrimination. This disruption has led to the lack of autonomy in women’s reproductive health, sterilization, homophobia and transphobia, the loss of traditional sexual education and language, and higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.
Bruce became involved in the advocacy and fight for human rights for two-spirit/Indigenous LGBTQ people in 1986, with the founding of the Nichiwakan Native Gay Society (now known as the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba Inc.). She has been involved in organizing four of the Annual International Two-Spirit Gatherings, in 1990, 1998, 2010 and 2018.
Bruce continues to advocate for two-spirit rights and recently led the founding of the first two-spirit Metis local in Canada. On August 12, 2019, the Manitoba Metis Federation announced the launch of the 2Spirit Michif Local. Her work aligns with the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit 231 Calls to Justice.