photos: Top: Priscillia Mays Tait reads her work at a Voices of the Street Launch, where The Bear Whisperer (right) also shared his writing. Geoff Webb photos.

The joy of sharing stories

Through work at Megaphone, it is an honour to support writers on the margins to tell their stories, in the form of journalism, creative writing and photography

Get on your megaphone

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There is an uncanny sensation that comes with being at work during the final days of the year. 

While many were taking a much deserved holiday break in the waning wintry days of 2021, Megaphone’s vendor hub remained open for vendors who were stocking up on supplies or needed a place to warm up. 

On my days working in the office, I delighted in the eerie quiet on the roads during my commute and the unfamiliar stillness of the dimly lit office building, normally animated by a steady movement of people. 

But once the door to the vendor hub swung open at 9 a.m., beautiful folks from the community would trickle in. Some were nearly unrecognizable under many layers of sweaters, coats and masks, but the staff were quick to figure them out with a greeting. 

It was on a day like this, when my normal work pace was slowed by the sense of stillness in the outside world, that I had a moment to reflect on how special this work can be. 

One vendor came by with a new piece of writing for our forthcoming edition of Voices of the Street. He had been informed of the theme for this year’s anthology—which we will announce at a later time, but it is safe to say that it is a theme that is deeply relevant to many Megaphone vendors, storytellers and readers—and took it as an assignment, meditating on the topic until the words came and he could put them on paper. 

That day, he came in with his handwritten poem and stood at the counter of the vendor hub, and as he always does when he has a new work, politely asked if we would like to hear it. We enthusiastically obliged and listened as he read from the page. 

I was struck in that moment by the pride in his voice, and just how profound a simple exchange like that can be: to be gifted another person’s story and carefully crafted words, and in return, to give one’s attention and time. 

I thought of the many other folks in the community who have generously shared their words with us over the past year, and how fortunate we are to hear from so many talented writers and share in their stories. 

While we are closing out another challenging year, this is the feeling that will carry me into 2022: what an absolute joy and honour it is to support folks to tell their stories, in the form of journalism, creative writing and photography. 

And there will be many stories to share. As we begin 2022, we know we have so much to look forward to, like celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hope in Shadows, launching the first-ever Megaphone podcast, and holding creative writing workshops to support writers to prepare works for this year’s Voices of the Street.

We are eager to get this year started, to bring all of this work to you and provide more opportunities for people with lived experiences of poverty to have a say in the stories told about their communities.  

This winter, our community came together to help us surpass our goal of raising $35,000 by Dec. 31. We have now reached our stretch goal of $45,000! From our hearts to yours, thank you. It's your support that keeps our work going.

— Julia Aoki is the executive director of Megaphone.

Get on your megaphone

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