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Indigenous busker attacked in apparent hate crime on Granville Strip

Last Updated Aug 6, 2020 at 1:29 am PST

Michelle Heyoka, a Vancouver musician, was left with a large scar across her face after a violent and bloody attack in the Granville Entertainment District. (Courtesy gofundme.com/f/k6eba-reconstructive-nose-surgery)
Summary

An Indigenous busker's face was slashed in an apparent hate crime on Downtown Vancouver's Granville Strip

Michelle Heyoka was left with a large scar across her face after a man punched her with a blade in his hand

A friend has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for cosmetic surgery, not covered by MSP

Editors Note: This article contains graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — An Indigenous busker who was the victim of a violent and bloody attack on Granville Street is hoping to get facial surgery after her face was slashed with a knife.

Michelle Heyoka says she was wrapping up a night of busking when a group of men charged at her and her friends, yelling racial slurs.

“[One of the men] was running toward my friend and I jumped in the middle to block his punch, and then instead of punching her, he punched me with a blade in his hand,” she tells NEWS 1130.

“I never saw blade I thought he was just gonna go punch her with his fist. And then as soon as he punched me the blood started gushing out of my face. I had touched the wound and then like half my nose was falling off. There was blood everywhere.”

Another friend later tried to defend Heyoka but was stabbed in the back four times.

Heyoka was left with a large scar across her face.

Heyoka received about 40 stitches from the bottom of her left eye to the bottom of her nose.

While she says her recovery went alright and stitches were taken out after a week, she still has a visible scar.

Racism prominent in Vancouver

Heyoka says racism is prevalent and real in Vancouver and this is not her first encounter.

“I always hear racial slurs called to people,” she says.

“I think a lot of people experience racism, it’s just not reported. Or a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to go on the news to report it. It’s very common. And I think in every community racism is definitely real.”

Heyoka adds she also doesn’t want her children, aged three and five, to be exposed to these realities and tries to hide her scar the best she can.

“I don’t want to scare them because they’re very young. I don’t think they’ll be able to understand it and even if they do I don’t want to like scar them and traumatize them.”

A friend of Heyoka’s started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for pay for plastic surgery for her nose, as MSP does not cover it.

As of Wednesday evening, almost $5,000 has been raised.

Vancouver Police are investigating.