(photo by Eagleclaw Thom, intro by Tracey Mitchell)
In 2007, Briarpatch published Shayna Stock’s words about her cross-Canada trip with a friend to hear the stories of “people who are making a conscious effort to integrate community into their daily lives.” I suspect that this trip only added to the wealth of knowledge and intuition Shayna already had about intentional community, because she is one of the best and brightest community-builders I know. The following year, the Regina-based magazine welcomed her to their small staff with open arms. She would eventually wear every hat Briarpatch had to offer including publisher, editor, and editor of the much-loved-yet-short-lived Sasquatch newspaper.
Since moving to Regina, Shayna has become a fixture of Saskatchewan’s activist and arts communities. She is the founder of Regina’s spoken word series Word Up!, and a member of Regina’s spoken word slam team for several years. She also facilitates workshops on spoken word, creative writing, journaling, and self-care. In 2014, she participated in the Banff Centre for the Arts’ Spoken Word Program.
Shayna is also a co-founder of the Killjoy Club, a collective of artist-organizers that provides platforms for creative feminist expression. Shayna acknowledges her own privilege as a white settler and challenges the privilege of others. She has repeatedly shown great courage and conviction in calling people on behaviour that hurts others and destroys community. Shayna is a strong believer in and educator on consent. She not only encourages people to ask questions and listen for “no”, but also speaks poetically to the sexiness involved in a definite and genuine “hell yes!”
An artist who encourages the creativity of others and a spoken-word warrior who also listens deeply, Shayna’s love, compassion, generosity and skills are a gift to the whole province.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
I just wrapped up a re-mount of my show Ice Queen City. I wrote the show during my artist-in-residence term at the Creative City Centre. I wanted to explore the poetry that exists in everyday urban locations like bus shelters, intersections, and construction sites. My goal was to simply sit in these spots and bear witness. The project challenged me to get out of my head and into my body while I wrote. I ended up collaborating with filmmakers Gordon Pepper, Leo Keiser, and Matt Holland who created a gorgeous visual backdrop to the show. I also worked with choreographer Johanna Bundon who helped me develop and integrate some movement into some of the pieces. This was my first time working in multiple disciplines like that, and I loved it.
I think my next projects will also become some form of interdisciplinary performance poetry, but right now I’m still in exploration mode. I am really interested right now in the idea of lineage – including my own family history, queer history, and women’s history. I’ve developed a recent fascination with Sappho, the ancient Greek poet from the island of Lesbos (where the word “lesbian” comes from). So far, I’m just devouring whatever information I can find on these subjects. I don’t know what this line of curiosity will turn into, if anything, but I’m having fun learning.
KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?
I actually just accepted a part-time position as Reference Assistant at the Regina Public Library! I don’t start until Jan. 6. I’m really looking forward to having regular income again after a few months of mainly self-employment. I also love libraries, and interacting with the public (so long as I’m also getting enough alone/creative time at home in between), so I’m hopeful it’ll be a great job to support my creative work.
KC: What’s important to you?
Justice. I was joking with my parents the other day that my over-developed sense of justice came from them always making sure my sister and I had exactly equal amounts of everything – dessert, gifts, time with them, chores. I get really upset when something unfair happens to me or anyone around me. I think all of my work, in one way or another, is a response to injustice.
KC: What do you like most/least about Regina?
I could talk about this topic for hours – it was a main theme of Ice Queen City, and a question that’s been ever-present in my mind ever since moving here from Ontario 8 years ago.
In many ways, the things I like most are the same as the things I like least. Like the people – I love my community of engaged, loving people who are making radical and radiant art and movements; but part of the reason these folks feel so special to me is that the broader population in Regina is so conservative.
The blatant racial segregation and racism in this city makes me sick, but part of what keeps me here is the community of folks who are mobilizing against it.
I love the sharp, bright winters, but there are days every year when I question my choice to battle minus 40 when my hometown is sitting at 0. I deeply miss being near water (I grew up on Lake Huron), but I adore the spaciousness of this landscape (partly because it reminds me of being on the lake).
My family is very dear to me, and I miss being close to them; I don’t think there’s anything I like about that.
KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?
To me, Saskatoon is like a lover with whom I get to spend a weekend every couple months. When we get together, she wines and dines me, reads me amazing poetry, and takes me for romantic strolls along the river.
I understand that she has a lot of the same problems as Regina, but since I don’t live there I don’t feel as responsible for them. And I know she’s in good hands; there are lots of creative, engaged people in Saskatoon doing amazing work to address issues like access to public transit, food deserts, homophobia and transphobia, etc. So I get to just enjoy her delights, which is a pretty wonderful luxury.
KC: How do you survive the winters?
Cuddles with my partner and our dogs, lots and lots of layers, daily morning walks with my puppy, wine and dinners in with friends, and Netflix.
KC: (From the Proust Questionnaire) What is your motto?
Lately, it’s been: “You can fuck up if you show up”(coined in conversation with my partner Leo and friend Michelle)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of showing up, of being physically present and getting your hands dirty – how this is so much more important than doing things perfectly, because there is no perfect activism and because messing up and learning from mistakes is how we get better.
The late Clare Powell – former editor of Briarpatch Magazine, labour activist, and CJTR volunteer – taught me a lot about that. When I was working at Briarpatch, he was in his 70s and would come to every single envelope-stuffing bee. He would show up exactly on time and get right to work. I think this kind of dedicated presence is rare and extremely under-valued. I’ve been trying to be better at it lately.