Sudden Silence: Hidden Voices
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Sudden Silence: Hidden Voices is an adaptation of a photo voice project funded through a Vancouver Community Action Grant. The purpose of this project is to highlight the tragedy of the overdose crisis and introduce some of those who have been lost. Their loss is most keenly felt through their loved ones. Their grief cannot be described in words and is their constant companion. This project also focusses on the impact of the stigma for using drugs and of how safe supply might have made a difference.
Photo by Gabrielle Beer
MARIAH (Creedence) 20
A love of music
Mariah McLellan was 20 years of age when she died due to drug poisoning. From an early age, it was evident that Mariah loved to learn. She just seemed to soak up information. What she loved most was music, music, and more music! Mariah learned to play many instruments. She did have a few lessons but mainly she taught herself. She wrote songs and performed. She recorded some of her songs on You Tube including one called simply, “Music”. It can be heard on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uQ2iM6jXzU. Mariah's nickname was “Creedence” as she loved the band with the same name. Her music was recorded using this name.
Mariah always had her own style! Standing apart from the crowd and being a bit different is not always an easy path. To others, she might have seemed a bit of a loner and there were times when she did feel lonely as she travelled on her own individual path.
Tracy, Mariah’s mom, taught Mariah and her sister to be accepting, and friendly to all. Mariah did not complain but there were times when others were unkind. Of course some of her peers' comments and actions hurt at times.
Mariah’s heritage includes a Plains Cree background. As a youngster she went to several pow wows and loved dancing in her jingle dress.
Several members of Mariah’s family struggled with substance abuse and one of her relatives introduced her to cocaine when she was around 15. Sadly several members of her extended family were impacted by addiction. Mariah found that the drugs took away the pain of being different and she continued to use.
How was Mariah impacted by the stigma of using drugs?
Tracy says, “My kids were taught by me not to be judgemental.” Unfortunately, Mariah did feel judged by others and found this hurtful.
If there had been a safe supply of drugs available to Mariah?
“Likely she would have continued to use but I’m sure she would have wanted to stop her drug use at some point.”
Mariah’s sweet smile is missed by many. She loved children and always hoped to be able to teach kids how to play music. She can be remembered as happy go lucky and a music lover.