My Inner Gangster – Remembering Tanya Sayer
by Cheyenne M.
When I first met Tanya, she had this bright bubbly personality and it was like I had known her for years, although it was my first time meeting her. She had asked me if I wanted to take a look at her art submission and asked if she could explain it to me. I could see a sparkle in her eyes as I said yes, she grabbed her artwork carefully and placed it on the ground, to tell me her life story and goals for her future. I remember her smile, she was so proud of the art she created, and I must say I was also very impressed.
Her story begins with describing her childhood struggles, she experienced so much pain and struggles, yet she had this shining light about her. There was intergenerational trauma in her family, and she explained her raw story to me, as I listened, I could feel her pain. Abuse of all kinds, learned behaviors that were negative and unhealthy, broken family and so much trauma. As she grew up this trauma followed her as she shows in her art, she uses the medicine wheel to explain in quadrants to me about chunks of her life. Tanya had a hard life, on the streets, prostitution, violence, addictions and much more. Through all of that she still stood so strong and was so passionate when telling me about her goals for the future. Throughout her story, she used a lot of humor and inside jokes as you can see in her art, she had a great sense of humor and I think humor was one of the ways that helped her cope.
Tanya eventually ended up being incarcerated however, she did not let that stop her from having a positive attitude and to take that time to work on herself for her release. She used art to explain the difficulty of being incarcerated with a worldwide pandemic and how it had affected her and many other ladies she spoke with. I believe she was a strong advocate for women as she explained her struggles within the criminal justice system and how she felt that it was out to make people fail. She had a very powerful and strong voice; her story and smile will always be remembered.
Tanya was thrilled when she was accepted into the DSATU program where she was able to do programs and activities that would help her understand, cope and deal with addictions. She really did enjoy her time there and explained that it was a much better experience for her there. This is where I believe she really grew as a person, because when I met her a week before her passing, she had the most positive mindset and attitude one could have. Tanya was a woman who will not be forgotten, her smile and personality was one of a kind. She may have been in a hard place in life, but her strength, smile, and humor kept her going.
May you always rest in peace Tanya.
You will be missed dearly.
– Cheyenne M.