[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 megaphonemagazine.com.
Jules Chapman 1:06
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.
Paige Smith 1:17
For this final episode of the Voices of the Street podcast series, we are continuing our conversation with Eva Takakanew. In conversation with host Angel Gates, Eva reads her poem, My Mother's Comfort, published in the 2021 Voices of the Street Anthology. You can listen back to part four of this series to hear Eva read out her reflections about the poem. In today's episode, long-time friends Angel and Eva share and discuss pieces of writing that shine a light on the traumatic histories and ongoing impacts of the Indian residential school system and the Sixties Scoop.
Angel Gates 1:52
Hello, I'm Angel Gates. My Indian name is Gyuu Tsi'iga Jaad, I'm from the Haida nation, I'd like to recognize that we are on the Tsleil-Waututh, Coast Salish, and Musqueam unceded territory, and thank them for allowing us to do this on their lands. I am here with Eva Takakanew Poundmaker. Hi, Eva.
Eva Takakanew 2:12
Angel Gates 2:14
Eva I are old friends. So Eva, would you like to just tell us where you're from?
Eva Takakanew 2:18
I am from the Thunderchild First Nation, which is in Turtleford, Saskatchewan.
Angel Gates 2:23
Nice. So, I was looking through the magazine and of course I saw you there. And as you know, we go way back and I saw that you have a poem and a story in the magazine called My Mother's Comfort. Would you like to read your poem?
Eva Takakanew 2:38
Angel Gates 2:39
And then we'll just talk a little bit about that.
Eva Takakanew 2:42
I feel so small as I try and figure out where I have fallen off track.
I sold my soul to the devil and then I stole it back.
In the end a dope fiend’s got no friends,
and a junkie is a junkie till the bitter end.
I tie myself off and shoot it in my veins.
I have just hidden another day's pain.
I find my mother's comfort here — in a needle and a spoon.
Christmas is no fun, always waiting for good times that never seem to come.
Tired of the detox, the weird spaces in my mind.
Tired of the misery, tired of doing time.
There is no need to figure it out, I know where I have fallen off track.
I sold my soul to the devil and then I stole it back.
[Flute music fades]
Angel Gates 3:44
That's beautiful. Yeah, so we do have a lot in common. You talked about the day wrote this how you were feeling? Do you maybe explain that to me a little bit?
Eva Takakanew 3:53
So, I downtown for about six, seven years alone in my room by myself. Shooting crystal meth in my veins, I find writing really helps a lot to get what's in my head out. So, it's just something I wrote.
Angel Gates 4:07
I think it's very beautiful. And I think that it'll speak to a lot of people who are probably feeling the same way a lot. I've known for myself; I've felt that way. Just kind of hopeless. And, you know, judging myself for being a drug user. I've kind of gotten out of that a little bit. So, tell me a little bit about, cuz you mentioned your mother in your poem, so maybe tell me a little bit about your mother.
Eva Takakanew 4:27
So, I have two moms. I have my biological mother who was pushed from the Balmoral Hotel in 1988 from the fourth story. I was six years old. I don't really remember being with her at all. But then I have my adopted mother who's been there through thick and thin. And yeah, so talk about a little bit about both of them.
Angel Gates 4:52
Yeah, my mother was murdered in the Balmoral too, you know that. So, we've we have a weird strange connection. I was 21 when my mom was murdered. Yeah, I was a part of the Sixties Scoop like yourself. Only, I was a ward of the court. So, I don't know, like, how old were you when you found out you were adopted?
Eva Takakanew 5:15
I've always known I was adopted. But I was adopted when I was just after my second birthday.
Angel Gates 5:18
Let's see. Let's see, I've been trying to figure out how to honor my mom on the anniversary of her death. So, I usually tried to get, I haven't made it to the cemetery in years. But I was reading that you honour your mom by leaving flowers at the Balmoral? I think I might start doing that, because that's a beautiful way to do it. And it's much closer. And do people ever, like, talk to you about like, why you're leaving flowers there? Or?
Eva Takakanew 5:42
Well, I did actually just last month when my mom's death day came around and actually, and no, not really. I think a lot of people understand that. There's a lot of women that get killed down here. And yeah.
Angel Gates 5:59
Yeah. So, you're mentioning about your adoptive mom and how she has been there? And like, how do you make like room for, I mean, you have your mom in your heart and then your mom that's alive, like, how do you do that?
Eva Takakanew 6:13
Well, it's like, I have the mom, my mom who gave me life. And then my mom who's been there throughout my life, you know what I mean? My adopted mom actually, like, she wanted me long before I ever came to her. So, her and I've had a very special bond, even though I was a very difficult child to raise, and, and a lot of problems of my own.
Angel Gates 6:37
What was it like for you growing up, like, cuz you said, you always knew that you were adopted? Was it, like, how was school for you?
Eva Takakanew 6:44
Well, if you read the story from Voices of the Street, you will know that school, school is terrible. I hated school. I was always being made fun of, for being like, native in a white family. And the stigma that I, that I experienced, I've experienced throughout my whole life, right. However, you know, just it's.
Angel Gates 7:07
I hated school, too. My thing is, I was always too. I was always too native, or I was not native enough.
Eva Takakanew 7:14
Angel Gates 7:14
You know, I was never because I'm so light, right?
Eva Takakanew 7:17
Angel Gates 7:17
It's funny here, because I was just reading that. You cut off your eyelashes when you're a kid for being made fun of, I did the exact same thing. And I shaved off my eyebrows. And then I got made fun of way more.
Eva Takakanew 7:28
Yeah, yeah. Somebody told me I had Indian eyes. And I took that as a bad thing. Like, oh my god, I shouldn't have these eyes. And so, I went into the bathroom with those little safety scissors and cut them all off.
Angel Gates 7:39
I cut mine off too. I must have looked so silly, little peanut eyebrows and like no eyelashes. I did the exact same thing. It's so funny. So, I know more. I know a lot about your story. And I know like you've overcome so much. I'm totally proud of you.
Eva Takakanew 7:55
Angel Gates 7:56
We need more people, like in our Indigenous community, like yourself, who go and do some wonderful things, even though I mean, I know you've used drugs, you've done whatever you've done out here. And you know, like, and you're and what is it now that you're, what are you doing today that's.
Eva Takakanew 8:12
I just graduated my second year of Family Community Counseling, and I will be going to school in September to take Indigenous Justice.
Angel Gates 8:21
Eva Takakanew 8:22
And I hope to be Prime Minister in 10 years.
Angel Gates 8:24
I hope so too.
Eva Takakanew 8:25
Yeah. That's my goal anyways.
Angel Gates 8:28
I would vote for you. We need.
Eva Takakanew 8:29
Angel Gates 8:30
We need to have an Indigenous Prime Minister.
Eva Takakanew 8:31
You can be my campaign manager.
Angel Gates 8:33
I totally would too.
Eva Takakanew 8:34
Totally. Let's do this.
Angel Gates 8:36
Yeah, I totally love that your story. This is like really nicely. I when I'm reading it, like I'm just like, holy crap, we have so much in common. You know, it's, that's probably why I'm finding it so hard to find more questions is because how do I talk about this? Like, because I already know and I know like, exactly where you've been? So your mom, I guess is, your adoptive mom, is relieved now and proud and like just happy that you're.
Eva Takakanew 9:00
Oh, I mean, I put her through hell. You know what I mean, like, I couldn't imagine what it'd be like to have your daughter downtown Vancouver doing drugs, not knowing where she was. And like, just hoping that she's still alive. I could never imagine that. I could never imagine my own daughters doing the same thing. I like, losing it, right. So like, I mean, my mom is a very strong woman, but yeah, I love her.
Angel Gates 9:22
Yeah, that's good. I'm sure she's gonna be so proud when she hears this too. Yeah, I couldn't imagine my kids came and followed my footsteps. I'd lose my mind. Yeah, but even so I still have a lot of love for this community and the people that are in it. Some very beautiful, beautiful people just like yourself. I'm so proud of you, so I'm glad you're here. I have no idea what else to say.
Eva Takakanew 9:43
I know, me neither.
Angel Gates 9:44
I'm trying to use my radio voice here.
Eva Takakanew 9:46
Here we go. Excellent. Alright, signing off.
Angel Gates 9:50
Well, also, actually, why don't I talk to you a little bit about your story in the magazine, the Megaphone Magazine that came out that's.
Eva Takakanew 9:56
I'm a published writer.
Angel Gates 9:58
Yes, this is beautiful because when I read this it, it touched me because we haven't seen each other in a while. And the 215 kids that were found, I found myself really depressed, and just crying, like crying, because I've found how, how lucky am I to be alive. My grandma and then thinking of somebody hurting my grandmother just makes me want to hit somebody, you know. So, this has really impacted me. And I'm reading this today. And I found like, I just I love your, the way you. You see, because you're so much kinder than I am at the end, right? Like, you're obviously a very, very wise and peaceful person. So yeah, so Eva has an article out in this month in.
Eva Takakanew 10:47
Angel Gates 10:48
In July's Megaphone Magazine in the Question Is section. That is a column that that is managed by Nicolas Crier, who is also a part of Megaphone and the podcast program we are doing right now. So, her question was, what are some important things that Canada needs to work on with Indigenous peoples in 2021? And how will you help make this happen? So, Eva, tell me a little bit about this.
Eva Takakanew 11:16
Alright, well, so I wrote this shortly after I did a chalk drawing in the West End honoring the 215 children that was found at the Kamloops Indian residential school. And it really like, it was important to me to write something about this, I think, because I just, I've that I'm just learning about my own culture, right being raised white and all. I think that that's part of me, who I am. And this happened to my mom, this happened to my family members, my aunts, my uncles, whatever, right. So, I just started writing and this is what I came up with. And yeah.
Angel Gates 11:52
I think people should really check this out. It's a beautiful piece about the Indian residential schools and the kids that were found, the mass graves that were found today, as of now it's over 1000, 1000 children's bodies found on, I think there's only been three or four residential schools checked at this point, which tells us that there are going to be so many more children found. My grandmother's residential school burned down quite a few years ago, she was in Coqualeetza, in Chilliwack. So, I'm even interested to find out if they find anything there, like. Which one do you know which?
Eva Takakanew 12:28
My mom went to Onion Lake, which is in Saskatchewan. So yeah, want me to quickly read something from this?
Angel Gates 12:35
Eva Takakanew 12:35
Okay, so my mother was a student at St. Anthony's Residential School, in Onion Lake Saskatchewan. I will never know what she endured. I do know she had my oldest brother there. And the father was a priest. I believe she was 16 years old. My mother was given up for adoption. And recently I found him. I too, am a product of what she endured, and her heartache from the years spent there. I am a part of the Sixties Scoop, having been adopted out to another family when I was just two. But my great grandfather's run, blood runs through my veins, his warrior spirit is a part of my spirit. I will fight for peace, but I will also continue to survive and thrive. And I hope to create change for the future generations. I believe that in order for Canada to achieve meaningful reconciliation for the harms that have been inflicted upon us, the truth and nothing but the truth must be told. To 215 plus children that have been found, and the countless children that may never be found. May you forever rest in peace with the Creator.
Angel Gates 13:30
It's beautiful. I have a, can I read a poem? Okay. I wrote something like there's some tweaking needed. But I'll read some anyway. Because this residential school thing has really, really has affected me. And, well, I'm sure it's affected a lot and brought up so much stuff for our elders that lived it. Yeah. So, this is, I haven't decided what to call it, but we'll call it Canada's Shame.
Angel Gates 14:02
I see her as a little girl, happy and safe, loving life with her native family. Without warning, strangers came to take her away, to force her to live in their insanity.
The strangers brought her so far away from home, she can't understand why her mother left and why she's all alone.
Frightened and treated like an animal though she was just a little girl.
Residential School would steal her language and culture. Now she's trapped in a white man's world.
Her heart pounding as she walked through the doors, crying as they cut off her hair. They beat her and swore at her.
She needs some help, but there's no one around to care. They starve her or feed her rotten food. They give her fresh milk if they're in a good mood.
At night, a priest would come creeping into her room. He'd robbed her of her innocence. Now her future is doomed.
They tell her God loves her as they punch her in the face. Jesus loves you, so denounce your evil race.
She was never protected or given hugs as a kid. So, from then on, her affection, she hid. She became a mother to many who she could not show love.
Angry and confused when people spoke of a god from above.
Ashamed to be Native, she tried so hard to be White, but her brown skin shone and they could not hide it from people's sight.
Today, hundreds of bodies have been found under the schools, deep in the dirt.
It pains me to think how much those kids suffered, how much those kids hurt.
What horrors did my grandmother witness, I'll never know.
But the body count started at 215. And the numbers continue to grow.
My heart breaks thinking my grandmother had to live in that place. I could see the toll it took on her from the lines on her face.
People should know how much those schools took, hear it from the survivors and write the truth in their books.
The bodies have been found; things will never be the same.
Now the whole world knows of those horrible schools and of Canada's great shame.
Angel Gates 15:59
It's not really done.
Eva Takakanew 16:01
Angel Gates 16:02
Eva Takakanew 16:02
Angel Gates 16:03
So, thank you.
Eva Takakanew 16:04
Angel Gates 16:05
I'll just leave you with those thoughts. And yeah, I'm so glad you came. I hope this worked out. I'm not sure.
Eva Takakanew 16:12
Hope it sounds great.
Angel Gates 16:13
Probably because we're friends for so long. And like, I guess I should have thought that it would be harder to ask you questions.
Eva Takakanew 16:20
I know, right.
Angel Gates 16:21
Because I already know the answer, I want to like, you know, tell my story with your story. Yeah, have conversation. So.
Eva Takakanew 16:26
We could be here for hours if we did that.
Angel Gates 16:28
Eva Takakanew 16:29
Shit. We should have our own radio station.
Angel Gates 16:31
Okay. So just in case this was triggering to anybody. And it may have been, you're not alone. There is a helpline that you can call and the number will be given after the podcast.
Eva Takakanew 16:43
I'm also a counselor, remember?
Angel Gates 16:44
Yes, I'll be coming to see you. So please remember, you're not alone. Call that number. If you're feeling like you've been triggered at all. And yeah, thank you and all my relations.
Paige Smith 16:58
As Angel said, help is available, you can head to the show notes for links to different mental health support services, or you can call 1-833-456-4566 to access a crisis line available anywhere in Canada.
Yvonne Mark 17:16
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 17:30
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 17:48
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.
Paige Smith 18:20
And that's a wrap on the Voices of the Street podcast series. This series was produced in partnership with Megaphone Magazine and SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement. We'd like to give thanks to all the incredibly talented Megaphone storytellers who participated in the podcasting workshops for this project over the summer of 2021 to lead, curate and host this series: Jules Chapman, Angel Gates, Nicolas Leech-Crier and Yvonne Mark. Thank you to the Voices of the Street writers who generously shared their stories and their time, Dennis Gates, Elaine Schell, Eva Takakanew and Peter Thompson. It truly has been an honor to have all of your voices on the Below the Radar podcast feed.
Paige Smith 19:04
More special thanks goes to the workshop facilitator Helena Krobath and the many mentors who joined to lend their expertise in the development of this series. Once again, this series was made possible with support from the City of Vancouver, the BC Arts Council, SFU's Community Engagement Initiative and SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Sound engineering, editing, mixing and mastering were done by myself, Paige Smith, and my co-workers Fiorella Pinillos and Kathy Feng. And each episode's beautiful cover art was also created by Kathy Feng.
Paige Smith 19:36
We highly encourage folks to go and purchase your own copy of the annual Voices of the Street Anthology, which includes even more writing than was included in this series. And Megaphone Magazine's monthly magazine, sold on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria by Megaphone's amazing vendors or online at megaphonemagazine.com.
Paige Smith 19:55
Thank you all for listening to the Voices of the Street podcast series. And we'll be back to our usual weekly Below the Radar programming next week. See you then.