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June 5, 2018

Queen of the Oil Patch celebrates two-spirit Fort McMurray entrepreneur


David Thurton/ CBC News

Queen of the Oil Patch celebrates two-spirit Fort McMurray entrepreneur.

Massey Whiteknife’s sassy, entrepreneurial and voluptuous style is coming to the small screen in a docu-series titled Queen of the Oil Patch.

The part documentary and reality TV show premieres Tuesday night on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

It places the spotlight on Whiteknife, a two-spirited First Nations entrepreneur who transforms into Iceis Rain, all against the landscape of Fort McMurray’s oilsands region.

The trailer for the eight-episode season depicts Massey day-to-day, meeting contractors and roughnecks.

Then it quickly cuts to Iceis Rain, wearing cherry-red lipstick and sashaying in peacock headdresses, fur coats and bejewelled stilettos.

“I don’t identify myself as trans[gender],” Whiteknife said in a CBC interview. “I identify myself as two-spirited and that is the journey throughout the show. I always tell people you don’t need to put yourself in a label that society says.

“And I am not a big fan of having all these labels because then we are going to have this alphabet right across the board.”

First Nations people use the term two-spirit to describe someone who has both masculine and feminine identities.

The show follows Whiteknife as he navigates life after the Fort McMurray wildifire, operating a struggling business in a tanking economy.​

Some moments depict Whiteknife as an upholder of Indigenous culture who keeps traditional dance and spirituality alive in the 21st century.

He’s also a champion for LGBTQ2 youth who are bullied, and urges them to be themselves and not live for others.

“I dress up because I am a woman. And why can’t I?” Whiteknife said. “I hope what people take away from the show is the real me.”

Drama and a search for self

In the show, Whiteknife owns and operates a program called Get Ready; which helps First Nations people find full-time employment in Canada.

But the trailer also promises glamour, layers of makeup and “porn star” Botox lips — as Whiteknife describes in his brash style. There’s also late-night drama and other twists, including a record album and a vehicle accident.

Whiteknife also ponders identity questions about whether he will transition from male to female.

“The large part of the question is, can I continue to sustain my lifestyle as Massey and Iceis Rain?” Whiteknife said.

“Or am I going to get rid of one or the other. So, will I transition full-time?

“You will just have to watch to find out.”

Queen of the Oil Patch airs Tuesday nights on APTN at 10.30pm.