Peter Thompson was born in Lytton, B.C. and has lived in East Vancouver for more than 46 years. At 62, he is a father of two and grandfather—or Shup’lah in Nlaka’pamuctsin, the language of the Nlaka’pamux—of four. He enjoys trout and salmon fishing in the summer and loves getting out of the city to spend time in nature and with his grandchildren.
Peter has been involved with Megaphone for more than a decade and has been published many times in the Voices of the Street literary anthology and has had several winning photographs appear in the Hope in Shadows calendar. He is a frequent contributor to Megaphone magazine.
His piece entitled ‘Lytton Memories’, which was published in the August 2021 issue, was a tribute to the close-knit community he grew up in. Lytton was destroyed by wildfire on June 30, 2021 during an unprecedented “heat dome” weather event that saw record-high temperatures scorch B.C.
“The Lytton I know is a vibrant town beaming with pride, love, joy and happiness,” Peter wrote. “The village’s people are always welcoming and help whenever they can.”
After the fire, Peter was devastated and grieved for his relatives who were displaced.
“The people and elders who lost their homes and many memories are taking it pretty hard. They are missing home and home-cooked meals, and are tired of being moved around from place to place.”
Now, as new devastation impacts thousands of people throughout the province with flooding, Peter urges government and industry to wake up to the reality of climate change.
“With everything that is happening now, people should open their eyes. Mother Nature isn’t getting mad, she is getting even, and people should be pressuring the government for action,” he says. “But I’m not sure they will really listen. When they have these big climate action world meetings, they should also invite Indigenous leaders to hear their voices. We don’t have time to keep ignoring it. There are way too many disasters happening now and our next wave could be a major earthquake. So wake up leaders! I don’t think that you are ready for the ‘big one.’ Mother Nature is giving all these signs. Time to act.”
Peter has built a strong community of supporters, friends and customers over the years, and is well-known and loved in Kitsilano, where he sells Megaphone publications outside Whole Foods Market on West 4th Avenue and Vine Street.
This month he’s sharing a recipe for some much-needed comfort food.
”This bannock goes well with a turkey dinner. Use it to lap up the gravy, add a little cranberry sauce and mmmm, mmmm good!”
4 cups flour
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
Preheat oven to 325 F.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together well. Then add water and stir until combined and the batter resembles cake mix.
Cover all sides of a square pan with lard and flour lightly.
Pour batter into pan and bake until golden brown.
Cut into slices and enjoy!
DJ Joe was born in Chilliwack and came to Vancouver by way of Seattle in 1989. She is a member of the Sts’ailes Nation (Chehalis Indian Band) and was raised in foster care. DJ has lived in the Downtown Eastside for more than 20 years and has been a part of the Megaphone family for a decade.
Now 60, DJ was the only girl among nine brothers, so she says there was always someone watching her back. These days she returns the favour, looking out for the women of the DTES, particularly girls and elders, as a peer worker and volunteer with many organizations and events, including the annual Women’s Memorial March.
In Red Women Rising, a report by the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre on Indigenous women survivors, DJ recalls coming to the aid of a young woman—maybe 15 years old—who was screaming while being sexually assaulted behind a building.
“We ran out and he ran away. She survived, but… I will never forget that voice of hers. I always hear it in my head. She was someone’s daughter. I have fought for those women and myself ever since.”
DJ tries to stay hopeful, but the last couple of years of rising overdose deaths and the pandemic have made poverty and its accompanying isolation feel even more overwhelming.
She keeps busy volunteering and indulges in a few guilty pleasures: watching NCIS and House on TV.
“And on Facebook, I like to look at funny pictures and whatnot. There’s a page I like for jokes—Try Not To Laugh—or cute animals, baby animals. I have to save data though, so I’m careful with the time I spend on there.”
When asked about a holiday recipe, DJ shares a rum eggnog drink passed on to her by her late father, who affectionately called DJ his “Little Feather.”
Auntie DJ’s rum eggnog
“Before he passed, my late father taught me to make this special holiday drink. Then my husband used to make the recipe. Now I make it for family and friends.”
4 cups milk
5 whole cloves
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
12 egg yolks
1-1/2 cups sugar
2-1/2 cups light rum
4 cups light cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 tsp vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.
In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy.
Whisk hot milk mixture into the eggs slowly. Pour mixture into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves and let cool for about 1 hour.
Stir in rum, cream, 2 tsp vanilla and nutmeg. Refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight, before serving.
Evelyn Baron is a longtime Victoria vendor who truly enjoys her friendly chats with customers.
“I love the people out there, getting me out,” she says. “I’m semi-retired. I get out there and meet the people. They put something into my heart, they make me feel good.”
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has curtailed much of Evelyn’s social contact with customers for nearly two years, though she does venture out when she can.
Evelyn was born in Saskatchewan and has lived in B.C. for more than 50 years, with Victoria now her home. She’s has been a fixture at Cook Street Village, first selling Street Newz and then Megaphone, for more than a dozen years.
Evelyn says she stays young at heart by cultivating a sense of humour.
“I just love people,” she says. “When they’re walking by I always have to have the last laugh and be silly and be like a kid again.”
Her late son Craig Baron, who died in 2019, was also a longtime Megaphone vendor in Victoria. He and his mom shared a special bond, and Evelyn says it was her customers who comforted her in the weeks and months after Craig’s passing.
In addition to working as a vendor, Evelyn is an avid thrift store bargain hunter and enjoys taking pictures.
Her photographs have been published several times in the annual Hope in Shadows calendar, and earlier this year, she was part of the photography team that took pictures for the 2021 Voices of the Street literary anthology. She says she enjoyed the chance to roam around and be creative, capturing scenes across her city.
Evelyn loves both cooking and colourful headgear, so she frequently lives up to her nicknames, which alternate between “the hat lady” and “the recipe lady.” This month, she suggest folks who are constantly on the go try her 10-Minute Christmas Cake recipe, saying it “literally takes 10 minutes to make.”
10-minute Christmas cake
“I’ve had this recipe for 40 or 50 years. I first got it in Prince George while babysitting for a lady. I made it for years and years for my two sons. It’s simple for a busy time like Christmas. It literally takes 10 minutes and you can buy all the ingredients for less than $25.”
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 jar of mince meat
2 cans Eagle brand condensed milk
1 tsp cherry juice
1 cup each walnuts and cherries
Preheat oven to 300 F. Grease a 9-inch baking pan.
In a bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, combine eggs, mince meat, milk, juice and nuts and fruit.
Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Pour into pan and bake for 2 hours. Remove, cool and enjoy!
Lance Lim first came to Megaphone to participate in the 2021 Hope in Shadows calendar photo contest. His entry, The Space Between Us, won the Best Artistic Photo Award.
It wasn’t surprising, as Lance is a creative force. Trained in graphic and fine arts, Lance was involved in Vancouver’s public art initiative as a project manager when murals were being created in the Downtown Eastside. He also enjoys writing and is an enthusiastic teacher in the All Bodies Dance program offered at Carnegie Community Centre.
“It’s dance for enabled and disabled people with no judgement,” Lance explains, adding that his group has been chosen to take part in a performance with DanceHouse at SFU Woodwards.
Lance, 60, knows first-hand the importance of feeling comfortable with who you are. He relies on a motorized scooter to get around and is a single dad to 17-year-old Robert, who has autism. Robert is in his final year of high school and is planning a career in the tech industry.
Lance loves spending time with Zeke, a bichon frise who acts as an emotional support dog for him. Zeke’s mom Michelle Heshka also takes the friendly pooch to visit patients at local hospitals and to work at Union Gospel Mission. (Follow his adventures on Instagram: @zeketherapy).
A lifelong Strathcona resident, Lance is passionate about food insecurity issues, and was instrumental in creating meal programs at local schools and Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House.
He believes with a little creativity, people can make healthy, nutritious meals with what they have on hand and a few purchased ingredients. His Nourishing Salmon Soup is an example.
Nourishing salmon soup
“This is hot and simple soup for the soul that anyone can make! All the ingredients listed are the ones I try to use, but it’s all about utilizing what is available to us. Many of the ingredients can be substituted with other ingredients to suit availability and individual tastes.
After cleaning the vegetables, it is recommended that the ingredients be diced uniformly in size. This will ensure even cooking and flavours in every bite.
When washing the rice, do so in cold water three times to remove some of the starch. Then cover with water for half an hour to rest and then drain as much of the water out as you can.”
2 cans Sockeye salmon (Pink salmon can be used too)
2 tbsp butter or margarine
2 cups rice, rinsed and drained
3 litres chicken or vegetable stock
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped (or you can use 1 star anise) for flavouring
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 carrots, peeled and diced
6 celery stalks, diced,
6 yellow potatoes, skin on, diced
Note: Any kind of potato can be used, but I find that the yellow potatoes add a buttery flavour. Leave peel on to retain nutrients. Just be sure to wash well.
Melt the butter or margarine in a deep 3-quart or larger saucepan on low heat.
Add shallots, garlic, fennel and red pepper. Sauté until translucent and can you can smell the aromatics, then turn heat to medium. Fry for approximately 5 minutes.
Add rice and lightly toast the rice at medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. You can add the juice from the canned salmon. When it starts to bubble, add enough stock to cover the rice. Simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes.
Add carrots and potatoes and simmer until cooked, approximately 30 minutes Then add salmon and stir everything together.
Add the celery last as this will take the least amount of time to cook and it can get mushy if overdone.
Pour in the rest of the stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1 cup of whole milk at the end for a creamier version that resembles more of a chowder than a soup.
Add diced tomatoes at the end with the celery.