Deborah L. Delaronde-Falk lives in central Manitoba on a cattle ranch along the shores of Lake Winnipegosis. I live with my husband Dave, my cat, (Kitty-Putz) a German Short-Haired Pointer named Sadie, a mutt named Choochy and an abandoned dog named Chancy. My favorite cows are 'My Future', 'Slurpy', 'Party Doll', and 'Perogy'. I am a Metis writer who grew up in the community of Duck Bay. I honour my Metis heritage by writing and publishing under my maiden name. All of my stories (with the exception of Friendship Bay and The Rabbit’s Race) are historical in setting and focus around Metis protagonists, settings and story situations which I hope will convey the way of life of the Metis people in early Canadian history. I draw my story ideas from childhood experiences and from children and people close to me. I am now retired as a children’s librarian at Duck Bay School in the community of Duck Bay, Manitoba where I had worked for 26 years. ‘As a child attending school, we never had access to books other than what was contained in our school textbooks. My parents moved to The Pas when I was 10 years old. It was there that I had my first experience with a school library of books and reading. I just never thought that I would spend the rest of my life working in a library or seeing my stories published and shelved in one.’ I have recently published my twelfth book titled ‘Louis Riel Day: The Fur Trade Project’, and my thirteenth book titled 'Metis Spirits: Past Connections' a young adult collection of short stories will be available in the Spring/Summer 2022.
Interview questions with Brandon University Students:
1. What made you interested in writing children's books? I’ve been a school librarian for twenty-six years. When I first started working in this field, one of my first tasks was to check my library collection and order books in subject areas that we lacked. One of the areas that I noted we were lacking was in aboriginal literature for children. At that time, publishers would send schools their catalogs so I had three filing cabinet drawers full of catalogs. This was pretty time intensive. The reading level of books is a primary concern for primary/elementary schools. So, once I had ordered books for the core subject areas that would serve the curriculum, I began looking for native legends, contemporary and historical aboriginal fiction suitable for reading levels N/K – Grade 6. I discovered that although there were some books that would suit our students reading ability, the majority were too high level written for adults and University students for research and/or information purposes. There were a few (but very limited) stories and legends that focused on certain Canadian aboriginal groups, (e.g. Cree, Ojibway, Inuit, etc.) but even less about the Metis. I had to use American publisher catalogues to supplement the native legends and stories section of the library. It was the lack of Metis fictional literature that inspired me to begin studying the writing process to be able to write children’s picture story books. I have since expanded my writing experience to short stories with a book titled ‘Metis Spirits’. This book is a collection of short stories that are contemporary in setting but through some spiritual or ghostly intervention, the main character(s) are transported back to Metis/Canadian history. I am now writing novels with my latest book titled 'The Stone Gift'.
2. Have you been faced with obstacles throughout your life that reflect in your work? Language barriers were an obstacle and challenge in school. As a child, I understood the Saulteaux language and could speak a mixture of Saulteaux and broken English. When my family moved to The Pas, however, there was no one to talk to anymore except my parents. My skin is fair and I have brown hair so it probably seemed strange that I had a native accent. I couldn’t speak words with a 'th' sound and spoke all my 't' words with a 'd'. Because I was laughed at, I focused on learning to speak and write the English language fluently. I couldn’t have written and published ten books if I had continued to speak my language. My grandmother who was treaty preferred to speak her language but also spoke English. My mother is fluent in both Saulteaux and English. As a result, I can still understand a lot of Saulteaux words but can’t speak the language. Some people are gifted and can speak and write in multiple languages. I’m not one of those people.
3. How would you describe yourself in a sentence? I am an imaginative, self-motivated and determined individual who loves to face new challenges.
With all the controversy regarding Indigenous authors, I decided to post my genealogy. A good way to make family connections and help others with their genealogy, too.
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