Canada's Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) premieres tonight season 2 of Spirit Talker, "a documentary series that will follow Mi’kmaq medium Shawn Leonard as he travels from coast to coast using his psychic abilities to connect the living with the dead and bring hope, healing, and closure to indigenous communities." I've watched all of season 1 so I will certainly watch at least this first episode, not so much for what Shawn says and does (which is all fairly predictable, tired old shtick) but more for enlightening glimpses of behind-the-scenes. CTV News Atlantic (Halifax NS) did this promo piece (Keeping Up with Katie Kelly) introducing the series:
Katie: When you watch the show, you you [unintelligible] ... You know so much. People are shocked by what you say. Is it real? Is it all real?
Shawn: It's absolutely 100% real, yea. This isn't like a scripted show in any way. This is like... They just put me in front of people and let me do my thing.
In spite of being unscripted, Shawn's on-site production team includes some seven other people whose bread and butter depends on how good they can make Shawn look. Shawn himself is not of course an unwitting pawn of the deceased. His art, such as it is, likely goes back to his 1995 marriage to Melissa McClinchy who brought a dabbling in pseudoscience to their relationship (which lasted until 2014). Their paranormal pastime had become a public persona focus for Shawn as he strove* to incorporate his Indigenous ancestry into the act, dropping (for example) his Beaupre surname from his online identity. In 2015, Shawn celebrated an Indigenous wedding to a Bonny Martell but this ended bitterly a mere eighteen months later. Around this time he may have made "Shawn Leonard" his legal identity. The current status of his subsequent relationship to a Michelle Belanger (not the occult author), touted at one point as his fiancée, is unknown to me.
Perhaps a good indicator of Shawn's reach is this photograph ...
* Shawn is still striving. In the Katie Kelly interview he states: "I'm a very proud Mi'kmaq person." Then, as if to justify the assertion: "I never grew up on reserve. I grew up near to the reserve in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia." This must be his stock response when folk on the reserves that he visits ask him which reserve he is from.