Pursuing Second Chances in Pictou County

Pursuing Second Chances in Pictou County

Marcus English understands what it means to feel a need to be creative.

Since he was a young boy growing up in Pictou County, he’s taken on nearly every medium you can think of.  Over the past few years, his medium of choice has been stone.

“It’s the permanence of it,” said English. “There are things I could make that could be an artifact someday.”

For a part of his life, his need to create was consumed by addiction. It’s a part of his story he doesn’t shy away from talking about.

His addiction led to multiple near-death experiences and created adversity in his life, which is a significant reason he feels so passionate about his craft today.

“I feel like I have a whole new chance at life,” he shared. “I had wanted to quit drinking for a long time.”

It was at a recovery center where English surrendered himself to the process, allowing his faith to push him forward on his path to recovery. He credits his faith and the grace he received at that point in his life for making sobriety possible. Up until that point, he had tried everything to get sober. But he couldn't do it on his own. That stint at the recovery center is what finally worked for him.

“It (his desire to drink) was just gone after that point,” he said. English was determined not to let his second chance at life pass him by.

He came out of recovery sober, but without a job, landing on the decision to create work that worked for him.

“It seemed like a really great chance to do something on my own,” said English.

Last autumn he carved a feather out of a piece of stone. He remembers finishing that piece and feeling a new wave of inspiration.

He started his stone carving business, StoneFeather Creations, shortly after. Alan Syliboy, well known and respected indigenous visual artist, has been a significant mentor to English. It’s when Syliboy told him he could be a true artist now, after achieving sobriety, that English began believing in himself and his collection of artistic abilities.

Keeping busy has been a key part of his 21-month sobriety. He's started his business off small while maintaining his dreams of owning a workshop and creating large scale pieces.

Last month, he finished a commissioned piece for popular Nova Scotian actor, Jonathan Torrens.

“I want to create things that carry through,” said English. “I want to create a legacy. Not for myself, but for the art.”

English uses his ADHD as a tool for success, instead of allowing it to define him. He’s full of ideas, and while it can be challenging to stay on track, he said, “all of the things distracting me are good things.”

“It’s not just a disability. It makes me the way I am, and I’ve learned to live with it in a positive way,” he said. “If you’re allowed to be a free thinker, ADHD is a gift.”

StoneFeather Creations has allowed him to dedicate his time to something meaningful, for him and for his clients receiving his pieces which will withstand time. It’s brought him a sense of accomplishment and joy.

“I was always happy because of an external circumstance. Now, I’m happy regardless. I’m just happy,” he said.

He believes in his art and his dedication to it. He’s created and lost countless drawings over the course of his life, but his stonework is created with forever in mind. There’s nowhere he would rather be, creating these pieces that provide him with great purpose, than Pictou County.

“I think there’s so much culture here,” he said. “People are putting themselves back into the place. I want to put my energy back into this place too.”

His hope is to grow his business to the point where he can employ others in recovery or who are living with disabilities that make them think and work differently, providing them with a purpose like his stonework has provided him.

“I’ve accomplished more in the past 8 months than I did the rest of my adult life,” said English.

Shortly after sitting down with English, he was selected to complete a legacy piece for the Town of Pictou, in celebration of 250 years since the Ship Hector arrived and 150 since the town incorporated. The Project is a massive accomplishment for English, serving as an exceptional way to continue celebrating this next stage in his life.

Second chances are worked for, not given. English is proof that when you believe in yourself and work hard, a second chance can create a business, a purpose. A second chance can create the life you always wanted, and there's no better place to do so than Pictou County.