Podcast, Community, Social Justice

Voices of the Street: Why I Choose to Stay

February 15, 2022
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Content Warning: The stories in this series deal with difficult and sometimes traumatic topics. Please practice self care, stop listening, and seek help if you need to. Scroll down to find links to available supports.


The Voices of the Street podcast makes its debut on Below the Radar

Over the next six weeks, follow along as Megaphone storytellers weave tales and read from the 2021 Voices of the Street anthology. In this first installment, we hear from poet, writer, actor, research tech and overdose responder Nicolas Leech-Crier, in conversation with your host for this episode, Mr. Essential.

Nicolas shares his journey with Megaphone and how he’s cultivated a passion and skill for community storytelling and journalism. He also reads his original poem, “Why I Choose to Stay,” published in the 2021 issue of Voices of the Street — speaking to the piece as an accumulation of his lived experiences on the streets and his insights into fighting stigma with stories, empathy and love.

Due to Nicolas’s story featuring trauma-heavy content, should the poem or anything said during the episode have an adverse effect on your emotional or mental health, we recommend you stop listening to the podcast and refer to your best practices of self-comfort and/or seek support (links provided below).

Listeners are invited to reach out to Nicolas, the creator of this episode, at if they would like to discuss the contents of the episode.


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.


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

Cite this Episode

Chicago Style

Leech-Crier, Nicolas. “Voices of the Street: Why I Choose to Stay” Below the Radar, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Podcast audio, February 15, 2022.

About the Series

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.

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