Delacroix was inspired, largely, by two quotes:
“No one’s forcing them to come here.”
– Facebook comment under a news story reporting injustices experienced by Temporary Foreign Workers
– Lisa Daley, my dear friend and a former resident of Edmonton’s Northside
Northside Delacroix is one in a collection of linked short stories currently seeking representation. The protagonist, Shannon, appeared in a story published earlier, But for the Streetlamp and the Moon and All the Stars. That story won the Alberta Literary Awards Howard O’Hagan Award. After the success of both stories, Shannon developed into a character who appears throughout the book, which was funded by The Alberta Foundation of the Arts.
- I wrote Northside Delacroix where I write many of my stories: on the highway north from Sherwood Park to Slave Lake, Alberta. Virginia Woolf says a woman must have a room of her own but I’ll make do with three hours in a passenger’s seat so long as the kids pass out.
- I revised and edited the story sitting in a lawn chair in my Mother-in-law’s driveway in May of 2014. A big horrible June Bug (first of the season? Do they hibernate? How was it so big so early?!) landed on my lap and inspired the “crusty and big and black” simile.
- Originally, I disliked the story and its protagonist but felt the theme was important. Lucky for me, my friend and first reader Margaret Macpherson disagreed and argued that it was a very good story and a pleasure to read.
- Northside Delacroix was submitted to Alberta Views Fiction Contest as a second entry and on a whim. I had originally entered a different story from the same collection, Angels in the Snow, which later went on to win the Writer Guild of Alberta’s 2017 Youth / Emerging Writer Award
- My husband, a Paramedic Firefighter, helped me extensively in writing Tara’s overdose symptoms and treatment. The brown-eyed medic who catches Shannon’s eye is fashioned after him: kind, compassionate, to-the-point, and handsome to distraction.
- To date, the best compliment I have received on this story was from that husband, who said he had to keep reminding himself I had written it
- Another friend, Erin, a social worker, aided in my research of Alberta’s drug and addiction treatment programs (or lack thereof). How do poor people get clean in this province? Oh, right – often, they don’t.
- This story is set in August of 2007, when minimum wage was $7 an hour. In September 2007, minimum wage was increased to $8 an hour.
- Between 2006 – 2014, over 500,000 Temporary Foreign Workers were brought into Canada.
- In 2007, I worked as an English as a Second Language Instructor in Northern Alberta. Many of my students were Temporary Foreign Workers, and while they were grateful to work in Canada, their stories of labor rights infringements, rental & living expense abuse, and their lack of affordable / adequate housing options shocked me (one very young woman was offered only a mat on the floor of a bedroom housing three other male workers). The program was largely unmonitored and their employers were obviously taking great advantage of these disadvantaged peoples.
- Shannon definitely has an ugliness to her, but I wish I were as brave and clever and fierce as her. In many ways, she represents an aging-but-modern Albertan zeitgeist