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Voices of the Street Podcast Series

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The 2021 Voices of the Street anthology, “INSIDE we are all the same,” jumps from the page in this special podcast series. For four Megaphone storytellers, poetry and prose from last year’s special literary edition are a starting point for exploring the themes that moved them — in a whole new form: audio storytelling.

Featuring interviews with writers and personal reflections on how their lived experiences merge with the themes of the text, this podcast series illuminates Voices of the Street in a new way.

The Voices of the Street podcast is a six-part series for Below the Radar, curated and hosted by participants of Megaphone’s Speakers Bureau. Created by Jules Chapman, Angel Gates, Nicolas Leech-Crier and Yvonne Mark, this series was recorded and produced on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Writers featured in this series include Dennis Gates, Elaine Schell, Eva Takakanew and Peter Thompson.

Tune in to hear from these talented storytellers as the series moves through immersive soundscapes, poetics and creative prose, and critical conversations about poverty, incarceration, Indigeneity and connections to home, land and relations.

This series was produced with support from the City of Vancouver, BC Arts Council, SFU’s Community Engagement Initiative and SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. 

The podcast was developed through a mentorship program led by Helena Krobath. Special thanks to the storytellers and Voices of the Street writers, the supporting mentors and the audio production team from the Below the Radar podcast.

Content Warning: The stories in this series deal with difficult and sometimes traumatic topics. Please practice self care, stop listening and seek support if you need to. Help is available!

ABOUT MEGAPHONE

​​Megaphone changes the story on poverty by promoting social equity, amplifying marginalized voices and creating meaningful work. It produces a high-quality monthly magazine and annual calendar that low-income vendors sell on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria to earn income and build community.

ABOUT SPEAKERS BUREAU

Megaphone’s Speakers Bureau is a public awareness program connecting audiences with speakers who have lived experience of drug use and overdose prevention.

Credits

Theme music by John Brennan

Extra music and sound effects by John Brennan and Helena Krobath 

Sound engineering, editing, mixing and mastering by Paige Smith, Fiorella Pinillos and Kathy Feng

Show art by Kathy Feng & Paige Smith

JULES CHAPMAN

Jules was born and raised in Kitsilano, but has spent most of her adult life in the Downtown Eastside. Jules is no stranger to activism. She's a peer support/outreach worker for SWUAV (Sex Workers United Against Violence) and is involved with the B.C. Association for People on Methadone and the B.C. Centre on Substance Use. Jules is a co-author of Research 101 Ethics Manifesto, Community Ethics & Cultural Production Empowering Informed Consent Cards and Opioids, A Survivor's Guide. She is one of the first peers/vendors from Megaphone to have completed a peer journalism mentorship through Megaphone and Langara College. 

Jules has been a Megaphone vendor since 2003 and joined Megaphone's Speakers Bureau in 2019. Jules feels at home in the DTES, saying there is no other community like it. And she has a message for those outside the DTES who are dismissive of its residents and the formidable challenges they face: "Stop acting like it's not their problem. It is everyone's problem." The two most pressing issues, Jules says, are the lack of affordable housing and the ongoing overdose crisis.

ANGEL GATES

Angel is from the Haida Nation. She is the proud mother of three amazing kids and has been a dog owner for five years. She is a passionate human being and activist always fighting for human rights or the environment. When she is not doing work with the Megaphone Speakers Bureau, she is an actress. She has been nominated twice for best actress Leo Awards. At night she likes to relax with a glass or two of vodka and smoke crystal methamphetamine.

DENNIS GATES

Dennis Gates (Haida), at 60 years old, has lived in the DTES for 25 years. He says he is proud to still be learning new things about himself. 

As a participant in Megaphone’s recent writing workshops for people with lived experience of incarceration — offered through a partnership with the UBC Transformative Health and Justice Research Cluster — Dennis was able to explore and express himself for the first time since being released from a federal institution in 1996 about what it was like to go to prison.

“The first thing you do when you finish a long bit in prison is sit down on the sidewalk and cry,” Dennis says. “A 10-year sentence is frightening to remember, but these workshops, and all the people involved, have shown me a new confidence. And if this work can help someone inside not give up hope, then I am honoured.”

NICOLAS LEECH-CRIER

Nicolas Leech-Crier (and his secret identity, “Mr. Essential”) is an adoptee of Cree heritage and a freelance writer. At 43 years old he has spent approximately half his life surviving in the streets and more than a decade in the DTES. It never occurred to him that being a “drug user” would ever be useful, but thanks to the incredible support and loving friendship shown to him by his many neighbours and friends in the DTES, he’s parlayed his street smarts and community connections into a successful career as an overdose responder and outreach worker.

In 2018, Nicolas became a coordinator and facilitator for the Speakers Bureau at Megaphone and just recently his title was upgraded to Storytelling and Community Networking Liaison. (Mr. Essential’s title remains the same: One-time Imaginary Podcast Host of Some Notoriety). 

In everything he does — from powerful plays, to playful pictures, or  post-secondary presentations and paradigm-shifting podcasts — he sends love to his 11-year-old son, Money. 

YVONNE MARK

Yvonne Mark (Nisga’a-Gitxsan) was born in Haida Gwaii. Her parents had moved the family there so Yvonne wouldn’t have to go to residential school. She came to Vancouver when she was 16. 

In addition to her volunteer work at Carnegie Community Centre, Yvonne is a Megaphone vendor and member of Megaphone’s Speakers Bureau, working to end stigma around substance use. She has taken part in Megaphone’s Community Journalism 101 writing workshop, held in partnership with SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and is an outspoken advocate for the DTES.

ELAINE SCHELL

Elaine Schell was born and raised in southern Ontario and came to B.C. in the early 1990s when she was in her 20s. Her landing in Vancouver was a rough one, with Elaine living on the streets for a few months. But getting connected through the Carnegie Community Centre and other people who were also struggling helped Elaine find her feet.

With a collection of others, Elaine says she helped co-found an early incarnation of The Gathering Place, which is now a thriving community centre in downtown Vancouver that offers a place for Downtown Eastside residents to have a meal, take a shower, access a health clinic or participate in activities.

Elaine has been writing poems since she was a kid. “I come from a family of readers, writers and storytellers,” she says, “but life kind of got in the way.”

Elaine continues to find inspiration in the world around her through reading scriptures, writing, family, friends, nature and local events of the day. "It's all one big beautiful world to play in, and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

EVA TAKAKANEW

Eva Takakanew was born in Edmonton, Alberta and is from Thunderchild First Nation near Turtleford, Saskatchewan. She is a descendant of Chief Poundmaker. Eva moved to Vancouver and lived with her biological mom until just after her first birthday and then was adopted at the age of two. Last July, Eva graduated with a diploma in family community counselling from Native Education College and hopes to one day work with youth. She also has aspirations to become a Native court worker. Eva loves to write and says it helps her calm her busy brain, which never seems to shut off.

Peter Thompson

Peter Thompson (Nlaka'pamux) was born in Lytton, B.C. in the Fraser Canyon and has lived in East Vancouver for more than 46 years. He enjoys trout and salmon fishing in the summer and loves getting out of the city to spend time in nature and with his grandchildren.

Peter has been involved with Megaphone for more than a decade and can be found selling publications outside Whole Foods at West 4th Avenue and Vine Street in Vancouver. He has been published many times in Voices of the Street, has had several winning photographs appear in the Hope in Shadows calendar, and is a frequent contributor to Megaphone magazine. He has built a strong community of supporters, friends, and customers over the years.

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