Houle, Kelly

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Person

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Houle, Kelly

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Dates of existence

1967-

History

Kelly Houle is an Indigenous, transgender women who has overcome many challenges in life to become a beloved and well-respected member of community. She was born in 1967 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and raised on the Sandy Bay First Nation in the traditions, culture, and language of the Ojibway/Saulteaux people. At the age of 5, she was forcibly taken from her home to attend the Sandy Bay Residential School. Following her parents’ divorce, she left Sandy Bay and moved to Winnipeg to live with her mother and her five siblings. She attended several schools in Winnipeg including King Edward, William Whyte, R.B. Russell, and Argyle. She began identifying as a transgender girl at the age of 11. During her childhood and adolescence, she experienced racism, homophobia/transphobia, violence, and abuse but remained resilient.

While in high school, she entered the Winnipeg sex trade where she worked for 28 years and is a survivor of homelessness and drug addiction. After witnessing the death and disappearance of many Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit/transgender folks, Houle left the sex trade in 2005 and entered transition programs at Sage House and New Directions’ TERF (Transition, Education, and Resources for Females). Following her graduation, Houle began her career as an experiential outreach and peer support worker, first as the Oshkitwaawin Outreach Worker to women, youth, and Two Spirit people at Circle of Life Thunderbird House, and then at Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre, Sage House, Sunshine House’s Like That program, Nine Circles Community Health Centre, All Nations Hope AIDS Network, and the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network.

Houle has been involved in advocacy efforts related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people, as well as supporting Two-Spirit culture and tradition. She joined the Tears4Justice Walk, a 7,400 kilometre walk across Canada to raise awareness and demand justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and was instrumental in the inclusion of transgender and Two-Spirit people in this movement and the subsequent federal inquiry. She has attended several Two-Spirit Gatherings and was crowned the 18th International Two-Spirit Princess. In 2017, Houle, a jingle dancer, helped organize the first Two-Spirit Powwow at a Pride event in Canada and was named the Grand Marshal of the Winnipeg Pride parade. She has served as Co-Chair and Vice-Chair of Two-Spirited People of Manitoba. She is open to speaking about her life experiences and has served on several committees advocating for improved health and safety programs for transgender and Two-Spirit people in Manitoba.

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houle_k

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Status

Final

Level of detail

Full

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by Brett Lougheed, February 2023

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Sources

Kelly Houle oral history interview, University of Winnipeg Archives, Two-Spirit Oral History Collection (22.14)

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