When you have specific experiences that you learn from, that wisdom is meant to be shared. Especially when it’s part of a transformative process.
Leonard had always wanted to write a book about his 51-year journey as a medium, from his out-of-body travels at night to his first spirit guide Sam to his experiences as an adult providing his services to those in need.
The first book, The Language of Spirit, was self-published in 2018 through Balboa Press. But through a network of friends, including medium John Holland, led him to Hay House. It was there where Spirit Talker was created from his previous book.
“The more that life had progressed, and different experiences started to happen, I felt I needed to put it out there,” he said, during an early November phone conversation. “I don’t believe things like this are meant to be personal.”
Spirit Talker also covers his upbringing in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, to his travels to Newfoundland to playing cards with his grandmother Margaret (Burke) Stewart, and his move to Calgary to work as a furniture builder. It also predates his APTN show, “Spirit Talker”, where he helps those in need.
But it was a run-in with a spirit elder that prompted Leonard to learn more about his Indigenous ancestry. He was on McNabs Island, located in Halifax’s harbour when he said he felt the forceful push of an elder spirit. It spoke to him in Mi’kmaq. It performed a smudging of the room Leonard was in and the energy in the space changed.
“I was like, what the hell just happened here,” the 51-year-old said, adding he was pushed again and witnessed a big ball of light go through the ceiling. “Obviously, I’m being taught something and I need to learn more about who I am as an Indigenous person.
“I said, ‘Creator, I need people to come into my life to help me know, who I am as a Mi’kmaq and Indigenous person, and teach me about my spiritual culture and traditions.”
Within a month, his prayers would be answered as he was doing a charity event at the Veith House in Halifax. He met Cathy Martin, a Mi’kmaq film producer and community activist and offered her a reading. From that reading, he was able to connect Martin to an old cold case on Cape Breton Island.
Noel Marshall, Judina Marshall, Joseph Michael and Kate Michael went missing on March 30, 1936, when they left Eskasoni in a boat on Bras d’Or Lake headed for Big Pond. Their deaths were suspected murders, and Martin’s connection would be introduced to Leonard.
“Within a week, (he) shows up at my door … and says, ‘Shawn, you need to learn about your culture’,” Leonard recalled. “Eventually that relationship grew and he taught me more things, and over time, he gave me my Indigenous name, White Eagle Spirit Talker.”
The rest is detailed within the pages of Spirit Talker, including his return to his grandmother’s home to teach her about her culture, as she gave up her identity to raise 16 children with a white fisherman outside of the community.
“(The question) was my prayer answered when I asked for help to understand who I was is still being answered today, and I’m still learning. I’m still growing,” Leonard admitted. “I’m still understanding what it is to be an Indigenous person because of colonization.
“Even when I was young my grandmom would whisper under her breath, ‘You know that I’m Mi’kmaq, right?’” he added. “I didn’t even know what that meant.”
Photo courtesy Shawn Leonard