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Camperville Metis author publishes children’s book commemorating Louis Riel

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There has been a lack of representation in books when it comes to the Metis people and the history of Louis Riel.
Local Metis author and Camperville resident, Deborah Delaronde, has been writing children’s books all about the Metis culture and way of life. Her recent book, Louis Riel Day: The Fur Trade Project, has been
released just in time to honour Louis Riel Day.
“I began working at Duck Bay School in 1986, and it was the lack of Metis fictional literature that inspired me to begin studying the writing process to write children’s picture storybooks,” explained author Deborah Delaronde.
“This was an area that was sadly lacking for Metis children. I have been writing and publishing books for the past twenty-two years. I have a number of unpublished stories that I have written including another novel but just haven’t had the time to work with them and send them to publishers. Through the years, I
have expanded my writing experience to short stories with a book titled Metis Spirits and a young adult novel titled The Stone Gift. 
“A lot of my stories are historical in setting and focus around either Metis protagonists, Metis settings, and or situations. There is always a little part of me and my life, in each of the stories. I draw from childhood experiences and people close to me. It is my hope that my stories will convey the way of life of Metis people in both a historical and contemporary context.
“I began to study how to write stories while juggling a career, studying, and being a single parent, which was time intensive,” explained Delaronde.
“I completed writing my first story titled A Name for a Metis in 1996. I submitted it to Pemmican Publications in 1998 and within a few weeks received notification that they would like to publish it. I couldn’t believe it! I held that story back thinking it would never be considered for publication. The
publisher allowed me to choose my illustrator. I chose Metis author and illustrator Keiron Flammand to illustrate the book. We worked on the book as a team and the book was published in 1999. The book was popular and went through quite a few printings.”
Over the past twenty two years, Delaronde has published twelve books. Two of those books are not Metis
themed. The one titled Friendship Bay is a touching story about building friendships and the other, titled The Rabbit’s Race, has a powerful message about the value and importance of grandparents.
Delaronde has received praise for her work on The Stone Gift, which is a young adult novel based about children in foster care. She drew from her personal experience being raised as a foster child.
Fred J. Shore, Ph. D Assistant Professor, Native Studies Department, University of Manitoba wrote ‘Metis author Deborah L. Delaronde-Falk weaves an excellent tale around the reality of many Metis youth 
caught up in the foster care system. The result is a positive story told with respect for the cultural and spiritual beliefs of Indigenous people. The author has produced something here, which places traditional
beliefs into a daily life context. An excellent tool in the struggle to make Indigenous experiences part of our society.’ 
Delaronde has grown from her experience writing books, but doesn’t make it her sole focus. It has given her a different outlook and more inspiration to draw from when writing. “Writing and getting stories published is a demanding activity time wise, and some writers make a great living off it, but it takes commitment,” noted Delaronde.
“I have never had that kind of time and I realize money isn’t everything. Although it may give you status, it can’t make you happy if you have to sacrifice time spent with your family. I have needed to balance
working for that pension, time spent with family, and writing as last on my list of things I need to do.
“I do have a number of unpublished stories that I’ve written in between the published books. Picture books demand working with the illustrator and publisher to make it the best it can be. By contract, the publisher gives you a deadline to complete a phase of the project. However, as soon as I’ve completed
and published one story another presents itself through inspiration and so I continue to move forward at my own pace.
“I am currently working on my memoir titled A Journey to Becoming Metis: Deborah L. Delaronde,” she said. “I received a Canada Arts Council grant and a deadline to complete it. So that is my focus and
commitment right now. 
A lot of my stories have been Arts Council funded with deadlines. Once a publisher accepts my story for publication, they set a deadline within their publisher’s contract. It takes approximately two years to turn a manuscript into a book, especially when it’s a picture storybook. It is the Arts Council funded stories
that I push to complete and get published. So, time, commitment, and focus are essential. I also need a spiritual break in between books to refresh and prepare myself for the next story each one building my
skill and development as a writer.”
Her latest book, Louis Riel Day: The Fur Trade Project, has given Delaronde the opportunity to give children a better insight into the remarkable history of this prominent figure. “I am extremely excited
about my new book,” said Delaronde. “I am an established writer, but this is the book that will push me
over to being recognized for my work. I feel like I have been skill building all along toward this one book.
“It is about the history of the fur trade and depicts how the Metis people were an important part in bridging a connection between First Nations people and the European fur traders. This children’s book spans a timeline of events in Canadian history as they relate not only to the fur trade, but to Louis Riel and the Red River Resistance. The book is about a young boy who has been assigned a project by his
teacher on the fur trade. 
With help from his grandfather and the Internet, they travel back in time and discover how the fur trade began; how a new people emerged called the Metis; the Metis’ role in the fur trade; Louis Riel and the Red River Resistance, and the reason behind a commemorative holiday named Louis Riel Day.
“Louis Riel was an educated Metis man, a politician and a leader for the Metis people,” explained 
Delaronde. “It takes a great deal of courage to speak up for people who can’t speak for themselves. Today, Louis Riel is recognized as the Founder of Manitoba. It was due to the List of Rights that he and his provisional government wrote that led to Manitoba being recognized as a province. 
Louis Riel was also instrumental in Manitoba joining confederation. I believe that it’s important that young people learn about Louis Riel and why every year on the third Monday of February we celebrate a holiday named ‘Louis Riel Day’. We honour his contribution not only to the Metis people but to all Manitobans.”
Promoting book launches has become increasingly difficult for authors due to COVID-19. Gatherings at bookstores and public libraries have been put on hold due to the restrictions; however, Delaronde has found alternative ways to promote her new book.
“Due to COVID-19 and public health restrictions, I was unable to book launch Louis Riel Day: The Fur Trade Project,” stated Delaronde. “Normally, I would schedule the book launch through a venue in a city bookstore and perform a public presentation.
It is with assistance from Canada Council of the Arts and a Digital Originals grant that I was able to first
purchase a high-powered Dell G7 laptop computer so that I could work with the high memory demands required to work with video files. I used a video editor, wrote and planned video scripts, created a book launch video, and posted it on YouTube. This is a skill that I can now use with each of my future published
books so that I can access international viewers and markets. I also embedded the above YouTube link within the book’s cover page on my author’s website at www.metisauthordeborahdelaronde.ca.
“It’s a new way of doing business but it works. I plan to post coloring pages and curriculum based activity pages on my author’s website for the Louis Riel Day book. The book is available for sale online through theytus.com, amazon.ca, McNally-Robinson.com, chaptersindogo.ca, and many more online booksellers.”
Writing has been a calling and passion for Delaronde, one that she has embraced and shares with others.
“A medicine man once told me, ‘You have something to say that will make many people stop and think’,” concluded Delaronde.
“Each book has been my life journey, but I still have one more thing to say in my memoir.”