Northside Delacroix won the Alberta Views Fiction Contest, a prize that includes publication in the 2009 Canadian Magazine of the Year and $1000. The story was chosen by celebrity judge Marina Endicott, Giller Prize Finalist for Good to a Fault.
Delacroix was inspired, largely, by two quotes:
“No one’s forcing them to come here.”
– Facebook commenter in response to a shared news story blowing the whistle on injustices faced by Temporary Foreign Workers
– The irrepressible Lisa Daley, my dear friend and a former resident of Edmonton’s Northside
Northside Delacroix is one in a collection of linked short stories. Other published stories in this collection include A Reason to Bend (A Cappella Zoo), As You Swing at the Edge of the World (Bare Fiction), Tell Me What You Want (Punchnel’s), and But For the Streetlamps and the Moon and All the Stars (Tahoma Literary Review).
- The story’s protagonist, Shannon, also appears in But For the Streetlamps and the Moon and All the Stars, as does her friend Lacey. Shannon’s father, Henry, makes a brief appearance (or rather, a brief phone call) in Tell Me What You Want.
- I wrote Northside Delacroix in May of 2014. I wrote most of it where I write most of all of my stories: on the highway from Sherwood Park to Slave Lake. Virginia Woolf says a woman must have a room of her own if she is to write. I’ll make do with three hours in a passenger’s seat.
- I revised and edited the story while sitting in a lawn chair drinking beer in my Mother-in-law’s driveway (Yes. Redneck Me.). While sitting in this lawn chair drinking that beer a horrible June Bug (first of the season? Do they hibernate? How was it so big?!) landed on my lap – inspiring the “crusty and big and black” simile.
- It took five drafts to reach a version of this story I was somewhat happy with. After sending the last version to WiR Margaret Macpherson for consultation, I admitted I disliked the story and its protagonist, but that I felt the theme was important despite the text’s crude unpleasantness. Fortunately for me, Margaret disagreed and argued that it was a very good story, 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.
- My husband (a 10+ year veteran of Emergency Services currently pursuing a paramedic’s license) 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, handsome to distraction…
- To date, the best compliment I have received on this story was from my husband, that he had to keep reminding himself I had written it when he first read it (it’s very good to achieve the character’s voice over your own, and Shannon’s voice is most definitely not my own).
- 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.
- This story is set in August of 2007, when minimum wage was $7/hour. In September 2007, minimum wage was increased to $8 / hour.
- Between 2006 – 2014, over 500,000 Temporary Foreign Workers were brought into Canada.
- In 2007, I worked as an ESL Instructor in Northern Alberta. I taught Beginner’s English and Intro to Canadian Culture to Foreign Temporary Workers. While my students were enthusiastic and counted themselves especially privileged to have the opportunity to work in Canada, their stories of labor rights infringements, overly expensive rental & living expenses, and lack of affordable / adequate housing options shocked me. The program was largely unmonitored and employers were (are?) 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 Shannon.