Sex Spirit Strength

A documentary about reclaiming healthy sexuality

About / Oh nikakarò:ten

Indigenous peoples face some of the highest rates of sexual and physical violence, substance abuse, HIV and suicide in all of Canada. But statistics never tell the whole story.

Sex Spirit Strength follows Michael and Jack, two young Indigenous men, as they shed the stigma and shame associated with their sexual health and gender identity. Michael, a former addict who lived a high-risk lifestyle that left him with permanent scars, hopes his activism work will discourage other young people from going down the same path. Jack, a transgender gay man, is committed to bringing pride back to two-spirit identity through education and activism.

With a compassionate lens, Sex Spirit Strength takes a candid look at the challenges and triumphs of these two brave young men as they reconcile their past, embrace their identities, and strive to make a positive difference in their communities.

Canada Media Fund APTN Mohawk Princess PicturesInnovate By Day

Profiles / Oh na’tehniia’tò:ten

Michael Keshane

Michael Keshane

27, is a traditional Saulteaux youth living with HIV. He grew up in North Central Regina, Saskatchewan where he lived a high-risk lifestyle. With the support of his grandmother, Michael followed a path to sobriety and reconnected with his culture and traditions. He is an activist on HIV prevention, often speaking about his personal experience, and is passionate about supporting Aboriginal people living with HIV in urban areas. He embraced filmmaking as a vehicle for his own healing and creates films based on his experiences of learning how to navigate life from the people he respects. His short documentary about his grandmother Giving Up the Ghost, was screened at the 2014 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto. His fifth and most recent short doc For When Dying is a Gift documents his personal journey through the creative and emotional challenges of making art and submitting it to an important film festival. Michael will be attending Humber College in September 2015 to earn his Bachelor of Film and Media Art Production. He continues to reside in Toronto.

    Jack Saddleback

    Jack Saddleback

    Jack Saddleback is a Two-Spirit Transgender Gay man from the Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta. The current President of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union, Jack has been able to make social and systemic change regarding mental health, societal disparities, gender and sexual diversity, and race relations on campus and worldwide. Jack currently sits on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s youth council and the National Indigenous Youth Council on HIV & AIDS. He has presented talks and workshops at institutions and organizations (domestic and international) across Canada, covering such topics as human rights, discrimination, homo-negativity and trans-negativity in society, mental health and multiculturalism. Jack is a professional speaker advocating for change and is currently studying Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan. Connect with Jack on Twitter and Instagram: @jacksaddleback or book him as a speaker online via


      Videos / Thniià:tara’s

      More About Jack


      Jack Raoká:ra.


      More About Michael


      Michael Raoká:ra.


      Watch More Videos


      They don’t know what I’m going through but they’re there and they care... I matter and it’s going to be ok. – Jack

      Resources / Kaia’takehnháhtshera

      Native Youth Sexual Health NetworkThe Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) is an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice throughout Canada and the United States.
      LGBT Youth Line (1-800-268-9688)Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line is a youth-to-youth phone, email and instant message support service for queer, trans, and questioning folks, age 26 and under in Ontario.
      National Indigenous Youth Council on HIV/AIDSNIYCHA represents the leadership and voices of Indigenous youth nationally working on issues of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual health, and harm reduction.
      Mental Health Commission of Canada (Youth Council)The MHCC Youth Council was created in 2008 to listen to the needs, experiences, and advice of young people who have life experience with mental health problems or illnesses, either personally or through a family members and friends.
      National Aboriginal Circle Against Family ViolenceNACAFV's mandate is to reduce family violence in Aboriginal communities by supporting the people on the front lines who work diligently to provide safe family environments. The website includes a listing of Aboriginal shelters across Canada.
      Genderbread PersonThe Genderbread Person illustration is a learning tool and way of conceptualising gender and orientation. It can be found on Sam Killermann's website "It's Pronounced METROsexual".
      Taking ActionThe Taking Action! Project: Art and Aboriginal Youth Leadership for HIV Prevention is a national project working with Aboriginal youth and communities across Canada.
      The Gender BookA fun and accessible illustrated book outlining major gender-related topics, similar to educational children's books, with no age limit. Available as a free e-book and a handsome hardback.
      All Nations HopeBeing a network of Aboriginal people, organizations and agencies, we respectfully strive to provide support and services to our First Nations, MŽtis and Inuit families and communities who are experiencing HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.
      Trans Pulse Project Resource ListThe Trans PULSE Project is a community-based research (CBR) project that is investigating the impact of social exclusion and discrimination on the health of trans people in Ontario, Canada. It provides a full list of Canada-wide trans-related groups and organizations

      Additional Resources / Ò:ia’ kaia’takehnháhtshera

      2 Spirited People of the First NationsWorking towards bridging the gap between 2-spirit people, youth, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities and our Aboriginal identity.
      Prison Health NowVisit the Prison Health Now website to learn more about prison needle and syringe programs (PNSPs), prisoners' right to health, the current lawsuit against the Government of Canada over its failure to protect prisoners' right to health and prevent the spread of HIV and HCV in Canadian federal prisons, and how to get involved.
      Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal NetworkThe Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network promotes the human rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, in Canada and internationally, through research and analysis, advocacy and litigation, public education and community mobilization.
      RR Consulting - Recommended ReadingRecommended Reading list on Trans-specific topics.
      Rainbow Health OntarioAn Ontario-based resource network for LGBTQ health promotion.
      OahasOntario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS strategy.
      Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Training and EmploymentToronto-based employment centre focusing on the Aboriginal community.
      MHCCFace-to-face with Jack Saddleback.
      Book Jack SaddlebackBook Jack Saddleback as a speaker via International Indigenous Speakers Bureau.


      Creators / Kenón:nis

      Courtney Montour

      Courtney Montour


      Courtney Montour is Mohawk from Kahnawake. She works in the documentary film and new media fields exploring issues of Indigenous identity. She recently completed her first feature documentary Sex Spirit Strength (Mohawk Princess Pictures), and four episodes of the new APTN youth doc series Dream Big (Mohawk Princess Pictures/Rezolution Pictures). She co-directed the experimental short K-Town with Tracey Deer and Brittany LeBorgne. Her upcoming projects include directing several episodes of documentary series Mohawk Ironworkers (Mushkeg Media) and Working It Out Together (Rezolution Pictures). She currently coordinates McGill University’s Indigenous Field Studies course, held in Kahnawake.

        Tracey Deer

        Tracey Deer


        Tracey Deer, an award-winning Mohawk filmmaker with multiple credits to her name as a producer, writer and director, has focused her work on exploring current Aboriginal realities. Aside from producing projects through her own company, Mohawk Princess Pictures, she is currently busy as co-creator, executive producer and director of the critically acclaimed Mohawk Girls, a dramatic comedy produced by Rezolution Pictures for APTN. Her most recent feature documentary, Club Native, won two Canadian Screen Awards in 2009. Playback Magazine declared her one of the 25 rising stars in the Canadian entertainment industry. She obtained her B.A. in Film Studies from Dartmouth College in 2000.

          When I first started doing drag, it gave me the power to really explore myself. - Jack

          Schedule / Kátke tká:ra’s


          APTN (West)Monday, 19 Oct 20157:00 AM MT
          APTN (West)Monday, 19 Oct 2015Noon MT
          APTN (West)Monday, 19 Oct 20157:00 PM MT


          APTN EastThursday, 26 Nov 20156:00 AM ET
          APTN HDThursday, 26 Nov 20156:00 AM ET
          APTN EastFriday, 27 Nov 201510:00 AM ET
          APTN HDFriday, 27 Nov 201510:00 AM ET
          APTN WestFriday, 27 Nov 201510:00 AM MT
          APTN NorthFriday, 27 Nov 201510:00 AM CT

          She told me, you can either live or die. i chose to live – Michael


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