Since we began this course, my cohort has had many different types of guest speakers. We have had elders come and talk about their experiences, we’ve had drug advocates, we have even had underground film producers coming to speak to us about inspiration and what drives them to succeed. There were a few that were very memorable to me and those are the speakers that I have decided to share with your today. Whether the speakers came from upper class homes, living in clean and sober homes, or broken lower class homes where they have no one to watch over them…every speaker had their stories, and each, moving in it’s own unique way. When I think back to the heartbreak and the successes, it puts me in a place where I know that I need to make a legacy for myself…for my family…because if I don’t have that, than how will they ever know what to look forward to in life?
The first speaker I am going to talk to you about is a young First Nations woman. She was raised in her traditional homeland in Alberta. She was raised in the traditional way that all young First Nations that are in the reservation. When she was a youth, she realized that there was a problem in her reservation land. She knew that her village and the aboriginal territories that she and her ancestors called home was sitting right on top of an oil bed. She went off to film school, here in Vancouver. She took a few years out of her reserve to go and obtain a degree. Once she had done that, she went on to make her first production film. It went international. She made a film on the pain that it would cause her people and their land if they did end up drilling the oil. The film was violent, but it got the point across. She had gotten settlement money from the fat cats who decided to drill into the ground, and that is where she got the money to actually make the film. As a little smart aleck gesture, she put the name of the drilling company in the credits as “thanks for the help to get my message across”. Brilliant.
Another speaker that I would like to talk about is a man who had grew up in a conservative life. He had a steady job and worked for a big name computer company. He had spent several years of his life, behind closed doors as a heroin addict. He had a family and as I mentioned a great life! He was soon fired from his high-end job and became an active member of the Downtown East Side (DTES). Within the years spent there, he had friends come and go. He had friends killed and overdose. He was sick of it. He was sick of people not caring about the people on the DTES, there were people dying every single day, many being his friends. He became one of the few founders of VANDU. He was a current user who wanted his voice to be heard. He became a powerful speaker for the people living in that area. He and a fellow resident, and close friend of his, became the voices of the DTES. There was also a film made about them. This movie was shown all over the country. It was a very disturbing film, but again, it had a message. Something had to be done for these people. He was another person who I had felt inspiration from while his time coming to speak to my class.
Everyone has a journey leading to their story.