Below the Radar Transcript

Voices of the Street: Why I Choose to Stay

Speakers: Nicolas Leech-Crier, Yvonne Mark, Jules Chapman, Mr. Essential

[soft guitar music]

Nicolas Leech-Crier 0:15 
You’re listening to Voices of the Street, a podcast series brought to you by Megaphone Magazine, featuring original writing from the 2021 Voices of the Street literary anthology. This podcast is recorded on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish, Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

Yvonne Mark 0:39 
Megaphone is changing the story on poverty by promoting social equity, amplifying marginalized voices, and creating meaningful work. You can purchase a copy of the anthology from your local Megaphone vendor and for more information visit

Jules Chapman 1:10
These stories may deal with difficult topics. Please see the show notes for more information about the topics in this podcast; there are places to reach out for support.

[music fades]

Mr. Essential  1:36
Hi, folks. Welcome to Voices of the Street, the podcast. I'm your host, Mr. Essential. And today we will be interviewing Mr. Nicolas Leech Crier, the poet, writer, actor, and overdose responder.

Nicolas Leech-Crier  1:51
Hi, I'm Nicolas Crier and I work at megaphone and a number of other places; overdose response and then mobile overdose prevention unit. And I also work with UBC in the Transformative Health and Justice Research Cluster. As a research tech and a lead co-writer. And BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, I do strategic advisory on their new stigma initiative, stigma and reduction initiative, developing a video series to address stigma with Emily Carr University. That project is wrapping up now. And then yeah, I also work at Megaphone as community storytelling, and community networking liaison, is my new title. I did Speaker's Bureau for two years there, coordinating that project and now I do storytelling and community networking for them. And I was published this year in the Voice of the Street, so I have a photo coming out in the Hope in Shadows calendar, hopefully.

Mr. Essential  2:53
Great. So maybe we'll just have you read from your piece.

Nicolas Leech-Crier  2:59 
Okay, this is called “Why I choose to stay”. 

Nicolas Leech-Crier  3:09  

Against every itching instinct I have

As an illogical human being,

Scared and scattered about in

stigma’s abandon

Every deeply disturbing subtext I detect,

In subtleties unspoken,

In murmurs of manipulation of my mind and spirit,


My body and heart remain


Undeterred, empowered and emboldened,

To resist, to stand fast and face down

 cruelty and unforgiving wrath


powerful predators

in a tortured  jungle jungle of tainted, illicit dangers

Unknown, unseen



Bloodlines smoldering in a blockade bonfire of

Unchecked trauma

and systemically abused and neglected

emotional chaos, rape survival


Isolated into overdose

An idealistic notion of safe and soundbites

Resounding the paranoid caution of


Ànd her peculiar harem of protocol,

Stockpiling and price killing

their Socially Distant,

An unknowingly infected outcry for

Sacred connection


Through all these years of wandering aimlessly,

Often not even caring if I ever catch

Whatever it is I so madly pursue,

So blindly,

Stumbling clumsily and confidently

Across endlessly lonesome alley nights

Of rain and rage, desperate, disgraced

Oblivious as to how obviously close I clamour

To my own tragically predictable,

yet preventable, demise,




I can at last, in absolute honesty, accept

That i choose to stay, simply,

because I refuse to accept that

Staying and struggling and suffering,


Somehow still standing in solidarity


sharing Love

is not, in fact,

what I am

supposed to do

Mr. Essential  5:06 
Well, thank you, Nicolas, that that's quite the poem.

Nicolas Leech-Crier  5:07 

Mr. Essential  5:09 
So how did you develop this from the beginning? Is this something you just wrote one draft or something?

Nicolas Leech-Crier  5:15 
No, this is, I guess, an accumulation of, of a number of years, really. Why choose to stay right? I've been here about 17 years and just sort of went through how I've stayed, how I've, you know, forced myself to endure stigma, endure pressure, from my peers from, you know, society at large. Took a lot of sort of the current affairs regarding Indigenous people and compiled that with my 20 years of street experience and just realized that the reason I am still here today and able to function is that I figured this what I'm supposed to do - is, you know, stay in and just keep fighting. And showing love. The way you fight is to show love, in my belief.

Mr. Essential  6:06 
I never thought if it that way. Thank you. You are exceptionally good with English. Did you go to school for that? 

Nicolas Leech-Crier  6:12 
No, I dropped out in grade eight. It was, you know, just another adopted native kid in Canada who got removed from their home, placed back in foster care, in a group home and started hanging out with the kids and doing drugs. And that eventually led me to dropping out, which is a fairly common story. But I was very lucky to be blessed with the gift for English. I couldn't explain the rules of English to you. I don't know the difference between a noun and a pronoun. But I could, you know, write. So, everything else in my life has sort of come down to depending on that as a means of getting by. And I'm very thankful for that.

Mr. Essential  6:56 
Yes, I can see that. It seems to have worked out for you. What else do you have planned?

Nicolas Leech-Crier  7:01 
What I have upcoming next is, I'm going to school at Langara to take journalism, one course. Megaphone is sending me for one course -  Fundamentals of Reporting, it's called, and I'm super nervous and excited about it. It's been years since I was in school. I'm just really honored that these people would be willing to invest in me like that, after, you know - in such tumultuous times, that they would take a risk on an amateur basically, that has no training or anything. Just on the fact that I've, you know, been showing up, I guess. I think that's empowering. And it's a credit to their faith in me.

Mr. Essential  7:43 
That's a good way to look at it. So what are you planning on doing with your journalism course?

Nicolas Leech-Crier  7:49 
I'm thinking of probably being a journalist, freelance. So, I've been freelancing with Megaphone for since 2008. I guess, they're my main publishing credit, probably always write for them. Once I get this, the fundamentals, under my belt, I'll probably have a bit more access to reporting in the field. I mean, that's what I like about journalism is, it's free-lance, freedom. And you can sort of choose what you want, here and there, pick a topic that you enjoy, and go learn about it and ask questions about it. And then since I've already got the writing part down, I can pretty much write my own ticket, as they say. It's like having a backstage pass to anything you want. I'm really grateful for that. But it just takes a lot of work, right. Freelancing is all about scheduling and maintaining, you know, good relations with people and whatnot. And I'm lucky to have 17 years of experience in this town, to have a lot of connections and understand the way the current affairs are going right now. A lot of it's not really very happy in this community. But I understand it so I can empathize. And empathy is the one thing we need in this world today.

Mr. Essential  9:07 
I agree. It's just like you said, sharing of, standing in solidarity.

Nicolas Leech-Crier  9:12 
Yes, most definitely. What I do know is that, including people with lived experience, is a major step forward for society. And I'm very lucky to be on the cutting edge of that, where people are being brought in and actually listened to and informing policy that will affect people's lives down the road, right? I mean, people that are sitting in prison right now are going to be affected by some of the storytelling processes going on now. And to me, that's really profound. Because the people that I know doing this storytelling, spent their whole lives being discounted and neglected and forgotten about, sitting in prison thinking, “Am I, you know, am I ever going to matter?”

Mr. Essential  9:52 
Well, that's amazing, Nicolas. It's been a real honour having you on the show today, and good luck in the photo contest and all the other projects you're working on. And you're welcome back anytime.

Nicolas Leech-Crier  10:03 
Thank you. Mr. Essential. It is was an honour to meet you too. I'm a big fan.

Mr. Essential  10:09 
Thanks. Okay, folks, just on a moment of solidarity, as Mr. Crier would say, I want to acknowledge that today's session took place on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, the Squamish, and the Tsleil-Waututh peoples. And I want to honor a moment of silence and sympathy, my deepest condolences to the families of those children that are being found in unmarked graves across Canada right now. It's one of one of our darkest chapters in history. And, you know, Canada really needs to look at itself right now and understand what happened there. I mean, for the most part, it really wasn't a lot of people’s fault or anything. So, I'm not here to lay blame or anything. I just think now would be a good time to sort of examine our own ideas. And I'm grateful to be able to do that in Canada. Thank you. Have a good night, folks.


Nicolas Leech-Crier 11:10
This segment was written by Nicolas Crier and hosted by his fictitious character, Mr. Essential.

Yvonne Mark 11:28 
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. 

Jules Chapman  11:42 
This 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. 

Please see the show notes for more information about the topics in this podcast; there are places to reach out for support.

Nicolas Leech-Crier  12:00
Our theme song was created by John Brennan, with 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. On behalf of the participants of the Megaphone Podcasting Pilot Project, I would like to give thanks to our Executive Director, Julia Aoki, both the board of directors, and all the hardworking vendors out there keeping our organization alive. Thank you. 

[music fades]

Transcript auto-generated by and edited by the Below the Radar team.
February 15, 2022

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