Sault Ste. Marie’s Deanna Naveau-Heyde is inviting folks from across Turtle Island to join her for a cup of tea and some honest conversation about the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples as part of her soon-to-be-launched podcast.
Tea with Dee — a podcast dedicated to exploring a multitude of issues and life journeys from an Indigenous perspective — is anticipated to go live later this spring.
Naveau-Heyde says the idea of starting her own Indigenous-themed podcast has been in the back of her mind for years, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that she began exploring the project in earnest.
“Working in non-Indigenous organizations or places have really shown me that there’s still a lot of work for us to do in educating the greater society about who we are as Indigenous people, but also to give a space for those people who are doing some amazing community development work that we may not hear of that are behind the scenes or hidden, or maybe people aren’t aware of them,” she told SooToday during a telephone interview earlier this week. “I’m seeking those people, and providing that platform for sharing stories of the journey.”
The Tea with Dee creator left her home community of Mattagami First Nation in 2012 in order to study at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie as a mature student, eventually completing a four-year honours in Community Economic and Social Development and studying Anishinaabemowin - the Ojibwe language - at the institution for three years.
Naveau-Heyde was contemplating returning to Mattagami First Nation until a fire burned down her house there in 2013.
“I never had a home to return to, so I made Sault Ste. Marie my home,” she said. “I thought nobody can take away my education, and that will never burn down — I have this four-year honours degree, and I need to put it to good use.”
For years, Naveau-Heyde has been employed by a number of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses and organizations in Sault Ste. Marie while doing some work as a consultant as a side hustle.
“I have come across many who have little to no understanding of Indigenous people and our culture, so looking at that lack of understanding and education, we see it’s still needed,” she said. “We need to continue providing that avenue or platform for sharing.”
Naveau-Heyde says she’s seeking out Indigenous Peoples from all walks of life, from elders to youth to professionals, entrepreneurs and community members. She would also like to hear stories from Indigenous people living in urban settings about the gaps in services they experience on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s giving a platform for an individual to share what that joy and purpose is of their journey,” she said. “Although there are all these beautiful, wonderful themes and topics, it really looks at the individual and the resiliency in all aspects — hearing the challenges and learning from those challenges, and how they overcame those challenges.”
The soon-to-be podcaster has faced her challenges in her own journey: Her dad attended Shingwauk Indian Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, something that still feels the impacts from to this day.
Naveau-Heyde herself also attended Indian Day School in her own community.
Nearly 200,000 Indigenous children attended federally-operated Indian Day Schools across Canada beginning in the 1920s. According to the federal government, several students who attended the schools experienced physical and sexual abuse at the hands of individuals entrusted with their care.
A mother of five children, she’s been in the process of breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma, brought on by the lasting impacts of colonization and the residential school system, by communicating her own stories to her offspring.
“This is part of my healing journey as well,” she said.
Naveau-Heyde already has three Indigenous movers and shakers lined up as guests on the Tea with Dee podcast so far: a lawyer, an artist and an entrepreneur.
Although she wants to educate people on some of the more gut-wrenching aspects of being an Indigenous person, Naveau-Heyde wants Tea with Dee to strike a balance between the darkness and the light.
“It’s going to be fun, you know? I’m not looking at it as a job, I’m looking at this as a really fun project, an education project that’s open to all,” she said. “Although we will have the negatives and some conversations or discussions that may include some negativity in regards to history, some atrocities that happened in the past, I think there will be more of a positive impact in creating some balance.”