Submitted by: Owen Chester

My name is Owen Chester from Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan. Growing up in a small community, I had big dreams. Only I didn’t know what they were, exactly. I remember always putting projects together that involved the use of art. I also remember when my family got our first computer, how obsessed I was with putting projects into a digital format. Whether it was online games, like painting trucks in all types of ways, or dressing up characters, and figuring out the best room layout for role playing games. I also used microsoft paint a lot, doctoring images and creating art pieces to my satisfaction. All these great finds were my only outlet at the time.

School had some options for me as a creative person, but I was a shy kid. I don’t know if I was always a shy person, or if I was just afraid of judgement. Other kids pointed out that I was different, but they did it in such a negative way that I started to hide everything about myself to avoid confrontation from others. During this period of time, I stayed hidden as best as I could, but it was a lonely world. I have only ever seen a handful of people who were ‘different’ like me, and from witnessing what they went through, and hearing what people had to say about them, it scared the hell out of me. I had no one to look up to, not in the way that was needed at the time. Eventually, I found a group of people that didn’t care about these little things; people that just let me be me. One person in particular saw the real me, and despite his popularity, would let me tag along with him and his friends. He wanted people to see what he saw in me. He made me believe that there are some truly great people out there, and without him, I don’t think I would be in this world. I wanted to go out and search for more people like him. Eventually, that’s what I did.

“I realised all the damage I had done, I hit a low point, and it was time to make a change.”

Before leaving Buffalo Narrows, I went through a period of time where I was completely lost. I was partying almost everyday. I lost my job, I lost friends, I rolled my brand new vehicle and hurt other people, due to me drinking and driving. It was a bad accident that broke my upper arm bone in half, and left us all with back problems and mental health related issues. We rolled five times after driving off of a steep ditch. I realised all the damage I had done, I hit a low point, and it was time to make a change. I quit partying and started to focus on my health, especially my mental health. I was diagnosed¬†with depression and social anxiety disorder. A lot of things started to make sense to me after being diagnosed and I felt less alone with each step I took to recovery. I’ve accepted my mistakes and with my life taking a turn in the right direction, I figured school was the next option. I applied for a media arts program in Prince Albert, where I found out exactly what my dreams were and how to achieve them. I was taught so much, and met so many amazing people. Doors were starting to open for me. I was on cloud nine.

“I decided it was time to come to terms with everything I was going through and figure out who I wanted to be.”

That is until one summer break brought things to a halt. I decided I was going to stay in Prince Albert for the summer, as I was having such a great time. One of my friends agreed to let me move in with her. On the third night I was awakened by screaming from downstairs, someone had been shot at in our doorway. I immediately froze, and when I could finally move I started to panic but I was afraid to try leaving out the only entrance to the apartment. The cops eventually showed up with guns drawn, and they found me in my room and held me at gunpoint with my phone in my hand. I dropped it on the ground as they¬†requested and followed them out into the hallway. They spoke with me to try to calm me down, but I was in shock. When the shock wore off, I called my parents in the middle of the night crying. My dad came to Prince Albert in the morning to pick me up and I left back to Buffalo. My situation didn’t get any better and I started partying again to cope with what I was going through. This led to more problems, and I noticed myself falling back into similar patterns. I was going through post traumatic stress disorder, not only from the occurence in Prince Albert, but also because of being in a bad vehicle accident. I was afraid to be riding in a vehicle with just anyone, and to be on freeways. I was afraid to go out in public or be near police and guns, and at times, was triggered into panic attacks. I didn’t know that I was going through PTSD. I moved to Saskatoon for a year when I was done with school, and did a lot of networking and graphic design work, but three more incidents involving guns had taken place near me. I was afraid of everything and I was losing interest in my passion.

“[I hope] to inspire youth to find their passion, chase their dreams, and meet new people.”

I decided it was time to come to terms with everything I was going through and figure out who I wanted to be. I started taking more steps into living a better life after trauma, and I started looking for more things I could be doing. The perfect opportunity came up and was introduced to me by a college friend. I started working with 2 Spirits In Motion Society and found a whole community of people who are like me and/or similar to me. They have inspired me to get back into doing what I love and showed me that I can be a leader. I am now working at being a freelance graphic designer, marketing consultant, and content creator. I am also working on starting a youth run organisation for Northern Saskatchewan communities, in hopes to inspire youth to find their passion, chase their dreams, and meet new people. I want to pass on my knowledge and create a safe community for LGBTQQIA+ and 2 spirit youth, as well as all other youth trying to find their way. If I can do it, so can everyone, and I want to help out the youth as much as possible to achieve this. We all make mistakes, we all get lost once in a while, but we are all so very powerful.