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There are moments that ‘make it all worthwhile’ and one of those moments that I’ll never forget was the one that transpired after I received that phone call.
It was December 2011 and I was visiting my daughter up in Yellowknife, celebrating my grandson’s second birthday and still basking in the glow of seeing my first-ever novel in print. THE TRAZ had come out just a few months before. It was a self-published edition, but made me proud. It looked good and read good and the pages of the paperback made a nice whispering, tickle sound when riffled.
Prior to flying to Yellowknife, I’d corresponded with the Yellowknife library, and The Book Cellar bookstore, and the Side Door Youth Centre. I’d emailed press releases to the local media.
Yellowknife welcomed me with open arms. It’s a warm community despite being just this side of the Arctic Circle. There were actually many memorable moments during that visit. Not the least of which was watching the two-year old open his gifts and blow out his candles. But aside from that—
The library hosted an author presentation and advertised it. The town included the library visit in the community events calendar. The local newspaper attended my presentation and published a story on it. The radio station phoned me and I did my first-ever in-studio live radio interview.
But the moment I remember most vividly is when I was wrapping up my presentation to the after-school kids at the Side Door Youth Centre. I had invited a few of the youngsters to pass out trinkets to their school mates while I helped others enter their names in my draw for a Kindle. My daughter was dressing up the two-year old (this takes a while when it’s -40C (or F) outside and pitch black by 3 pm) when a staff member came to tell me that there was a phone call for me and would I like to take it in the office?
I was pretty sure there was a mistake, either that or a telemarketer had tracked me down. After all, I lived a thousand or so miles to the south. The only people I knew in Yellowknife were my daughter and her family and a few of her friends. My daughter and child were with me, her husband was at work, and her friends would likely call her, not me. Right?
As you might imagine, my heart did a little flip-flop when I picked up the receiver and the caller identified herself as being with Corrections Canada.
My memorable moment, one of those things that makes it all worthwhile, was when I finished reading from THE TRAZ and looked up at the nine youngsters in that classroom at the North Slave Young Offenders Facility (NSYOF)—and they looked back and we began to talk. We talked about the story, about making life-altering decisions, about the danger of gangs. We talked about writing books and about making our dreams come true.
|North Slave Young Offenders Facility|
THE TRAZ is now in the libraries of facilities such as the NSYOF across Canada’s north, and that makes me very happy. I recently got in touch with the official that had arranged my last visit to notify her that book 2 in the series, FATAL ERROR, was now out and to ask if it would be possible to do another presentation?
She informed me all the kids I’d met with are now back in their communities and none had re-offended.
Come spring, I just might once more be walking into the classroom in Yellowknife, prepared to discuss FATAL ERROR. Shame and blame and betrayal. Guilt and accepting responsibility. The art of forgiveness. Our sense of justice.
I may once more experience a life-changing, fulfilling, memorable moment.