A resident of Vancouver's Strathcona Park encampment has released a music video.
Tenshun tha Strest One, a self-described DJ, composer, musician, and singer, performed the number in a video shot recently in the tent city in the Strathcona neighbourhood near the Downtown Eastside, according to Fiona York, a volunteer support worker at the tent city.
"He came to Vancouver about a year ago...and he's been staying at the park for probably six months or longer," York told the Straight by phone.
"He started rapping his story, standing in front of his tent, so I asked him if he wanted to record his song."
Tenshun said in a release emailed to the Straight by York that his song, "Home Is Where the Heart Is", has a strong effect on him.
“Different people will take different things from it. The song makes me cry every time I sing it.”
He also said that he has been involved with music and recording music since he was a child. “I’m originally from a small town in Ontario. I’ve been recording since I was 12 years old and now I’m 40. I’ve been recording for 28 years.
"I trained In classical piano since I was four and I have my Grade nine royal conservatory certificate in piano," Tenshun added. "I recorded on my own and supporting other people and shared the stage with top artists."
York said she contacted a local filmmaker, Ryan Sudds, who came to the park to record Tenshun's video.
"I showed it to people in the camp," York said of the finished product "Everybody really liked it."
The song can be viewed below and on YouTube.
In the release, Tenshun said of living at Strathcona Park, "“I don’t feel like I’m homeless anymore. Someone else said that to me today. They said they finally have a place that feels like home. Because they have community.”
The province announced recently that it has secured enough shelter and temporary housing to accommodate the park's approximately 200 residents by the end of April, when the park board has said it intends to enforce a city no-camping bylaw.
The campers first started erecting tents in large numbers in Strathcona Park about a year ago, although some homeless locals had been pitching tents around its boundaries for months previous.
Tenshun provided some background to his life in the release sent out by York, who told the Straight that she advocates for park residents in regard to healthcare, meals, showers, and infrastructure issues, among other things. "I'm entirely independent," she said.
“I come from a small town that has more overdoses per capita than anywhere in Ontario," Tenshun said in the release. "I didn’t know that the homeless problem was this bad. Living in Ontario I didn’t know it was this bad out here—the lifestyle, the drugs.
“My music doesn’t glorify drugs but it acknowledges it," he continued. "That’s always been the problem with my relationships, I make bad decisions. Music is my outlet. Without music, I wouldn’t be able to cope with anything. I’d be such a mess. We all make mistakes - whether I’m learning from them or not, I’m not sure.
“I have social anxiety. I started using drugs to fit in; like at parties, social occasions. But then I started using them to fit out. To not be part of the group. I think that’s part of the problem—everyone has social anxiety. And now we have social distancing. When I last saw my mom I couldn’t even hug her. That made me sad.”More