Invisible Heroes: Aboriginal Stories from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

herb readingA new book written by Victoria Rose Bull, Leslie Nelson, Sue Blue, Herb Varley, Stanley Paul, Emma Lucy Charleson, Tracey Morrison, Cassandra Eastman, Priscillia Tait, Gertie Pierre, Phoenix Winter, Rosemary Georgeson, Lucy Alderson

In the fall of 2014, the Carnegie Community Centre and Capilano University began a project that resulted in the book “Invisible Heroes: Aboriginal Stories from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.” Our two organizations have jointly run the Carnegie Learning Centre for 18 years and we began the Invisible Heroes project with three big goals in mind.

First, we wanted to recognize the significant contributions of our Aboriginal community members who are giving time, support, leadership and courage towards the well-being of people in the DTES.   Second, we wanted to create learning materials that would be relevant to our community – where the experiences of inner-city, Aboriginal community members were at the centre. We hoped that the stories of our Invisible Heroes would inspire and resonate with other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners and bring greater understanding of Residential Schools, the sixties scoop and other colonial policies. Finally, we wanted the book of stories to help organizations and institutions understand what creates effective support.

The project group met for six months to explore storytelling and to reflect on personal journeys. The stories emerged carrying humour, courage, tragedy, and documenting the personal and the political. In November 2015, the book was launched at the Heart of the City Arts Festival and our first printing flew out the door. We believe that we achieved what we set out to do, and more. Looking back, several of the authors and advisory group commented:

“I think that as an organization we ask a lot of our First Nations members, and we don’t often honour them.  To me, this was about honouring those that showed a learning spirit in their lives, and reached past obstacles such as residential schools, TB, etc.  Many of them contribute a lot to the Carnegie, and their journeys are not often acknowledged.  I think it gave our organization a chance to showcase those who do so much for our community.  – Phoenix Winter, Advisory Member

I just wanted to say it was very meaningful and an eye opener experience in getting everyone to begin to trust in talking about their own personal journeys and different experiences – Victoria Bull, author

Everyone is an invisible hero – they have a story to tell. Others need to sit and listen and learn from our elders who have so much to offer our younger generation. Story telling was done by our elders through legends, spiritual ways and history of the past. Let us continue to pass on these stories. Gertie Pierre – author and Elder

Invisible Heroes Project is more than a writing program it is a time to heal. The people of the land need this group! – Bill Beauregarde, Advisory Group

If you are interested in supporting the Truth & Reconciliation movement, then start by reading this truth. – Lucy Alderson, Project Coordinator

We hope to find funding for a second printing and community workshops. The Invisible Heroes Project was funded by the Catherine Donnelly Foundation with additional support from the Carnegie Community Centre Association and Capilano University. For more information, please contact Lucy Alderson at the Carnegie Learning Centre

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