We amplify marginalized voices and create meaningful work for those experiencing poverty

We amplify marginalized voices and create meaningful work for those experiencing poverty

The Shift Peer Newsroom

Welcome to Megaphone’s peer newsroom, The Shift!

The Shift is a group of more than a dozen people who are actively improving Megaphone magazine because of their unique perspectives and direct experiences with poverty, homelessness, substance use, physical disabilities, mental illness, incarceration, racism and immigration, as well their Indigenous and  2SLGBTQI+ backgrounds. They gather monthly with the managing editor to brainstorm story ideas, take on assignments, and determine editorial directions.

The Shift is also part of an ongoing project in partnership with the UBC Learning Exchange and UBC School of Journalism , Writing and Media that aims to improve journalism practices for reporting on marginalized communities, such as Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where Megaphone’s office is located and where many participants live.

Why “The Shift?” So the framework of Megaphone magazine can “shift” to being a more inclusive street paper, empowering those with lived and living experience to tell the stories that matter the most to them and their communities.

Hold onto your seats — The Shift is happening!

Meet The Shift Peer Newsroom

David Deocera moved to Vancouver from the Philippines in 1995 and joined Megaphone in 2013. He is a gifted artist, writer and photographer, and he speaks several languages, including English, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Russian and Arabic.

Eva Takakanew (Thunderchild First Nation) considers herself a “jack of all trades” when it comes to creative pursuits. She loves writing and photography, and is a member of The Shift peer newsroom at Megaphone magazine. She has lived in Vancouver all of her life.

Gilles Cyrenne is a retired journeyman carpenter, now writing full-time. He has a collection of poetry ready for publication, a batch of short stories he is presently editing and a novel in the outline stage. He is the president of the Carnegie Community Centre Association and has been involved at the centre for more than a decade with various writing groups and projects, including the annual Downtown Eastside Writers’ Festival. Gilles is a member of The Shift peer newsroom.

James Witwicki was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and moved to Delta and later Burnaby in the early 1970s. He has been living in the Downtown Eastside for more than 14 years. James is a prolific writer and has been published numerous times in Voices of the Street. He stays active in the community through his volunteer work at Strathcona Vineyard Church and works as a copy editor for Megaphone magazine as part of The Shift peer newsroom.

Jathinder Sandhu is a Surrey resident and a published poet, writer and member of The Shift peer newsroom. She won writing contests in high school, studied poetry post-secondary and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications. Jathinder also plays bass guitar.

Julie Chapman is a born-and-raised Vancouverite who now lives and works in the Downtown Eastside. Julie was a longtime volunteer with SWUAV (Sex Workers United Against Violence), and is currently involved with the B.C. Association for People on Methadone and the BC Centre for Substance Use. She is a member of The Shift peer newsroom, and is a published poet and writer. She is also a self-taught pianist.

Lance Lim is a single dad and lifelong Strathcona resident. He joined Megaphone as a vendor about five years ago. Lance is trained in design and worked as a graphic artist. He also enjoys writing and is a member of The Shift peer newsroom. He likes spending time with his dog Max.

Louise Boilevin was born-and-raised a Vancouverite who grew up in Kits, and has been a Megaphone vendor for mored than a decade. Politically active and a champion for human and animal rights, Louise has taken part in marches for social housing, sex worker rights, and the movement to stop animal cruelty. She’s involved in outreach work at WISH Drop-In Centre, which provides services and a space for women involved in Vancouver’s street-based sex trade, and is a member of The Shift peer newsroom.

Michael Geilen has been with Megaphone for about six years and is know for his big grin, great attitude and cringe-worthy “dad” jokes. Michael, who lives with a degenerative neurological disease, believes helping others is the key to connection. He backs that up with pedal power, cycling hundreds of kilometres each summer in the Ride to Conquer Cancer to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation. He is a member of The Shift peer newsroom.

Mike McNeeley was born in Kincardine, Ontario and moved with his family to Vancouver more than 45 years ago. He calls the Downtown Eastside home. Mike is a Megaphone vendor and avid photographer; he’s had his images published many times in the magazine, Hope in Shadows calendar and Voices of the Street literary anthology. When he’s not shooting pictures, Mike enjoys other creative pursuits such as sculpture and live theatre. He is part of The Shift peer newsroom team and member of the Binners Project.

Nicolas Crier (Cree) is a member of The Shift peer newsroom at Megaphone magazine. He has spent approximately half his life surviving in the streets and more than a decade in the Downtown Eastside. It never occurred to him that being a drug user would ever be useful, but he’s parlayed his street smarts and community connections into a successful career as an overdose responder and outreach worker. He is a published writer and takes part in numerous academic partnerships through universities and health authorities. He is the proud father of one son.

Priscillia Mays Tait is a proud Babine, Gitsxan, and mostly Wet’suwet’en mother, as well as a gifted writer, photographer, performer, artist, dancer and community activist. She has been a vendor with Megaphone for nearly 10 years. Her work has been published in Megaphone’s monthly magazine, annual Voices of the Street literary anthology and yearly Hope in Shadows calendar numerous times. Her frequent motto: Hug a tree.

Richard Young was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and came to Vancouver in 1970. Richard has been a part of Megaphone for seven years, first as a vendor. He is now a member of The Shift peer newsroom as well. He volunteers at Agape Church in Burnaby and is also a “Chinatown ambassador” as part of the Chinatown Community Stewardship Program, fostering a more harmonious community in and around Chinatown. He’s a sucker for his Grandma’s famous apple pie.

Yvonne Mark (Nisga’a-Gitxsan) is a Megaphone vendor and member of The Shift peer newsroom. She has taken part in many creative writing and journalism workshops through Megaphone, and was featured in the 2021 Voices of the Street podcast. She is an outspoken advocate for the Downtown Eastside.