The songs from her latest EP, aptly titled Flame, were written against the backdrop of AV’s somewhat troubled, inner-city neighborhood of McCauley, Edmonton, where she daily witnesses sad scenes and often tense, violent scenarios, which are in part due to McCauley’s high population of people suffering from mental illness and/or addiction issues.

To address these issues the neighborhood of McCauley has a large number of shelters, social agencies, and churches, all of whom have various programs for homeless, addicted, and mentally ill people– though there is a divided opinion in the neighborhood as to whether these organizations are effective long-term solutions for people with these problems; or if they just perpetuate neighborhood safety problems; such as drug dealing and sometime gun bearing gangs; prostitution and sexual exploitation; and used needles at parks and in sandboxes of neighborhood children, etc.

That ongoing neighborhood disagreement is combined with other issues in McCauley: McCauley also has a very diverse population of new immigrants to Canada, many of whom are refugees or people escaping war-torn countries, who have their own trauma; and at the same time McCauley is sandwiched between Edmonton’s Chinatown and Little Italy neighborhoods, who both have a proud history in the area despite initial racism towards them, and with that they have businesses, restaurants, and places of worship– while at the same time all of Edmonton is on disputed Treaty 6 Land with some of the 1st Nations Peoples of Canada– many of whom are suffering multi-generational trauma from the more than 100 years of the abusive Residential Schools system they were forced to attend by the Canadian Government and Catholic Church.  (In fact, some of the 1st Nations people are among the homeless people suffering on the McCauley streets, without a home on their own land).

And all of this is in the shadow of downtown Edmonton, just a kilometer away of McCauley to the West, where the bank employees and corporate oil and gas executives from Alberta’s oil fields work in the daytime; where the shiny new hockey and concert arena looms; and where City Hall, the Law Courts, temporary jail for people awaiting trial, and downtown police station all are located.

With all of this going on it is not surprising there are endless amounts of things for AV to write about, which she has increasingly related to the the political and economic tensions of the world at large.

While at the same time AV has observed that in her neighborhood–despite its tensions this diverse collection of people– have had to find a way to live together for the most part.  To do so they have had to learn things from and about each other, and to listen to each other’s stories, including stories of hurt– and AV writes that this, too, is a reality the planet has to now face: we are intertwined politically, economically, technologically, biologically– we are one family with a lot of healing and learning to do together, all struggling with addictions to thing that keep us from being whole.

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