Kanehsata’kehró:non Shawna Etienne recently had a life-altering experience after being selected to participate in the APTN documentary series Spirit Talker.
The series follows Mi’kmaq medium Shawn Leonard as he travels from one Indigenous community to the next using his psychic abilities to connect Onkwehón:we with their ancestors and bring hope, healing and closure.
“When I got there, they quickly briefed me about how he (Leonard) works and what to expect,” said Etienne. “Once he was ready for us, they brought us in and sat us at his table. He joined us a few minutes later. Once it started, he made a remark about there being very strong energy and that he would be starting with me.”
The third season is currently being filmed in Ontario and Quebec, and 13 new episodes will air on APTN in the fall.
Etienne said that Leonard started by telling her that her tóta was with her at all times.
“Then he said someone else was waiting very impatiently and laughed. He asked if owls meant anything to me, of course, they do, because of Chris,” she said.
Chris Simon was a childhood friend of Etienne. The two went to school together.
“He (Chris) has one on his gravestone. So, Shawn said that he had a lot to say. Some things he said were personal for two family members. And one for my cousin Travis (Etienne).
“He spoke about his accident and certain details that were on our minds. He confirmed some things about it, which have plagued me for over 20 years. He (Chris) is happy and not angry about it. He managed to let it go. He loves me so much,” recounted Etienne.
Leonard also told Etienne that she and Chris have been together for centuries and that she needed to let go of the anger over his death.
“He said there is one last love affair left for me, and we will start off as friends, but he will be a very good man to me,” she said.
During the reading, the spirit talker also told Etienne that the three miscarriages she had were the same person, her daughter, whom she bore when she got pregnant for the fourth time.
“When I walked out of there, I was so at peace, still crying, but it was a good crying. I just felt so loved and peaceful,” said Etienne.
Leonard told The Eastern Door that he never set out to be a spirit talker, but his life unfolded in a way that brought him on this path.
“That is what I was meant to become. We all have a journey in life,” said the medium who was born in Nova Scotia.
“Through life, we experience loss in many different forms and ways. One of those is our ancestors, the people that we love; they transcend the physical world and move into the Spirit World,” he said.
He explained that he has been connecting with spirits his whole life and that throughout the years, he learned that spirits communicate their messages through him.
“I know that helps people based on the information that I see, feel and hear from the spirit itself. They tell me things that help people heal past traumas and are very specific to them,” said Leonard.
“I have seen the impact that it can have on people’s lives and the healing process that can take place because of the messages that I receive.”
Midway through filming, the production needed a new director, and APTN suggested Abenaki/Mohawk director Angie-Pepper O’bomsawin who lives in Kahnawake.
“I like to say that the universe brought us together. To be honest, this series has redirected and changed the way I see life,” said O’bomsawin. “And one of the things that is interesting because we are all so interconnected from one community to the next, a lot of the stuff that our guests are working through are also triggers of my own.”
O’bomsawin explained that being part of this experience has helped her connect and find her own healing.
“It’s been an honour, and I am grateful it came to be at the time that it did. It was a real turning point in my life, and Shawn has been a blessing in terms of helping ground me and find balance,” she said.
For his part, Leonard is fulfilled by his calling, but also grateful to be able to meet Indigenous people from different communities and learn about their language and culture.
“I feel very honoured that I can go to each of these communities and serve people with the work I do as a spirit talker and helping people heal through the connections that I make,” he said.