Ilona Verley is Nlaka'pamux and the first Indigenous, Two-Spirit and LA-Based queen to appear on Canada's Drag Race, and in the franchise as a whole. Originally from so-called Vancouver, Ilona identifies as non-binary. She* auditioned for Drag Race a total of three times before making it onto the Canadian version of the show where she made it to 6th place, and appeared until episode 7. In this conversation, host Shayla Oulette Stonechild and Ilona speak about representation, Ilona’s journey as Two-Spirit, and they discussed the importance of honouring the Indigenous way of life and values through one’s work and culture.
This episode was recorded before the devastating news of the finding of the unmarked buried remains of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia just a few days ago. “Only when Indigenous peoples have the opportunity, authority, accountability and support to care for their own communities and families – through the governments they have determined and according to their own laws and traditions – will the challenges that are with us be addressed.” (Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond)
*Ilona’s pronouns are she/her.
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