Street papers have found themselves increasingly to be at the centre of the refugee crisis. Higher numbers of people selling street papers across different parts of the world have fled from their home countries due to poverty, persecution and conflict. Not only do street papers have the ability to platform their voices and stories, but they also offer a stable income when a place in the mainstream job market may seem out of reach. Their support beyond simply selling the magazine – assisting in applying for documentation and permits, looking for a new place to live, and language classes – means a pathway to integration into what is sometimes a new and unfamiliar society. Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, INSP and its member street papers are helping some refugees – who now work selling street papers – to tell their story.
Vibrant flowers bloom: Writing about climate change for Megaphone’s Voices of the Street literary anthology
Megaphone storytellers and vendors of all street papers, including the writers featured in the pages of this Vancouver and Victoria street paper’s Voices of the Street literary anthology, regularly face a host of challenges, all linked to the inequities that come from living in poverty. When Megaphone hosted a series of writing workshops earlier this year, it became clear what was of great importance to participants: our environmentally distressed planet. As a result, the pages of the new edition of Voices of the Street (Stealing Looks at the Sun: Writing About Climate Change in 2022), which is on sale now, are packed full of prose driven by the growing impacts of climate change.
Having sold the street paper for 15 years, L’Itinéraire’s Daniel Grady explains the reasons why he’s thankful for it as we reach the end of another year.
Put on the elastic pants and serve up a Megaphone meal using vendor recipes sourced from their food memories.
Everyone who is a part of the global street paper network knows what a street paper is – that extends to the staff that put each publication together and those who buy them. But the people who truly know what a street paper is – what it means – are those who sell them. Here, a collection of street paper vendors – from North Macedonia to Canada – tell us, in their own words, what a street paper is, personally to them.
INSP compiled the thoughts of those who sell street papers – made up of some of society’s most marginalised people – on how climate change, environmental disaster and extreme weather affects their everyday lives.
With Covid vaccines being rolled out differently across the world, that means marginalised and vulnerable communities in different parts of the world are receiving immunisation at different rates. But it does mean some good news: street paper vendors are beginning to receive the jab, and with the world opening up again, that’s more than welcome.
Teresa Ng has been a Megaphone vendor for around eight years and usually sells the magazine from her pitch near East Hastings and Nanaimo Streets in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. She has kept herself busy during the pandemic but has been distressed by the racial abuse she has suffered as a result of her ethnicity. She is looking forward to returning to her work as a vendor. Dennis Chernyk has been a vendor for nearly two years and his pitch is near West Hastings and Granville Streets. In addition to his work with the street paper, Dennis enjoys writing, drawing, gardening, cooking, and spending time with his black short-haired cat Co-co. But, as Dennis tells us, not everyone is as enamoured with cats as he is.
Street papers provide global update on how the world’s homeless population is facing the coronavirus
The Big Issue took stock of how coronavirus is affecting the world’s homeless community, providing another update on just how severely the spread of the virus is impacting street papers and the people for which they provide an income.
#VendorWeek is a time to celebrate vendors but, such is the nature of their lives, sometimes tragedy strikes, and it is good to remember that, and the people that tragedy touches, too. Earlier this year, Montréal-based paper L’Itinéraire lost one of their vendors. Stéphane Avard was a bright and loving person worn thin by years of homelessness, and his story speaks to the relationship between sleeping rough and mental illness. The magazine’s editor wrote a touching tribute.
Benoit Chartier sells L’itinéraire from his pitch at the corner of Bercy Street and Ontario Street East in Montreal. He has been a vendor for 20 years and credits his work with providing him with respite from feelings of isolation by enabling him to meet people and to be part of the wider community. He has a message for both L’itinéraire and his customers: “Bravo!”
L’Itinéraire vendor Maxime to his 25-year-old self: “You are empathetic because you’ve been there and back”
To mark the end of INSP’s 25th anniversary year, we have been asking vendors across the street paper network to write a letter to their 25-year-old self. Today, L’Itinéraire vendor Maxime writes words of encouragement to his younger self.
To mark the end of INSP’s 25th anniversary year, we have been asking vendors across the street paper network to write a letter to their 25-year-old self. Megaphone vendor Stephen explains why being 25 was the best year of his life.
Sue is a 50-year-old Tla’amin woman whose delicate frame belies her personal strength and great stature within her community. She has endured numerous personal losses and has responded to these tragedies with resilience and growth while, within her community, she is known for helping others finds strength by supporting those around her.
Last summer, Sylvie was left reeling after she lost everything. But there was something that helped her to get through: L’Itinéraire. Thanks to her time as a vendor years earlier, she was aware of the support that was available for women experiencing homelessness. But it wasn’t easy to secure the help she needed. Now, Sylvie has a room for her own and is appreciative of the friendships that she has formed within the L’Itinéraire community.
Like INSP, this year Montréal street paper L’Itinéraire is celebrating its 25th anniversary. In a special edition of the magazine to coincide with celebrations of the milestone, L’Itinéraire vendor Jean-Paul Lebel wrote candidly about his break-up, drug use, how he got involved selling the street paper and the effect that has had on his life.
The Bear Whisperer is a vendor who sells Megaphone, the Hope in Shadows calendar and Voices of the Street literary anthology in downtown Vancouver. This is a story of his travelling days, hard work and journey to British Columbia – the province where he found the opportunities that changed his life.
Richard Gerrard has been selling street papers in Victoria since 2007 and became a Megaphone vendor in 2014. As well as enjoying his Saturday shifts selling the paper from his pitch outside the Bay Centre on Douglas Street, Victoria, Gerrard enjoys creating things, history and the occasional sweet treat.
Linda Pelletier is a L’Itinéraire vendor who sells the paper from her pitch at Marché Maisonneuve in Montréal. She has faced many challenges in her life and now considers herself as one of the many good writers at L’Itinéraire. Here, we learn more about her experiences earlier in life and her journey through trauma to self-acceptance. Now, aged 64, she can appreciate the beauty within herself.
Dr. Naheed Dosani is among a growing number of health care practitioners working to bring palliative care to those living on the margins. Megaphone spoke with Dosani, and others leading this initiative, as well as the individuals, and their families, it has helped. Last night at the 2019 INSP Awards, this piece won Best News Feature. Now, you can read it in full.
Isabelle Raymond, a L’itinéraire vendor based in Montréal, has always been sensitive to the differences between people. As a child, she recalls trying to educate her classmates when they made fun of students at a nearby school for children with special needs. When her sister was born with several health needs, and later diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, Isabelle gained privileged insights into what life is like for someone with special needs.
For winning photographer Buffie Irvine, the Hope in Shadows project became more than a photo contest. She has been a Megaphone vendor for eight years and her father for 14. When customers realise the family connection, they start talking to her and it makes her feel close to her community. The Hope in Shadows photography project made her feel close to something else; something that she loved. Her Dad.
Réjean is a one-man band – an extremely talented individual. Here, he talks about his love of music, a more dangerous and temperamental love of alcohol, giving it up, using his talents for those in need and finding himself a L’Itinéraire vendor.
INSP launches North American Bureau to give regional support to street papers in the US, Canada and Mexico
INSP has launched a new initiative to help support street paper members situated in the US, Canada and Mexico. The North American Bureau will be led by the former executive director of Street Roots and backed by Seattle street paper Real Change.
Jason and Brendan are members of The Squeegee Punks, which is a well-known group who wash windscreens for money in Montréal. When the city’s street paper L’Itinéraire asked them about whether it was possible to find love on the street, both men looked back in amazement: “Why can’t we?”
Montréal street paper L’Itinéraire opened its doors to readers, partners, and any other interested members of the public, for yet another ‘Journée Portes Ouverts’ (Open Doors Day) to celebrate #VendorWeek.
Yannick, a L’Itinéraire vendor whose pitch is at Jacques-Ferron Library in Longueuil, Canada, is undergoing gender reassignment. Over the next few weeks, they will see their body start to change as they commence the physical transition towards becoming Yannick. As the process begins, they will no doubt face numerous questions from customers and loved ones alike – something that is only natural when many people don’t know much about gender reassignment. So, what is there to know about the process? We asked Yannick to tell us more.