“Jonas” was a short story I wrote for the then-called Canadian Aboriginal Writing & Arts Challenge in 2012.
It was inspired by true events that took place in Thunder Bay regarding First Nations students who have perished while attending school in the city away from their communities.
The story originally ran very long, and after a lot of editing it was still about 1500 words over the limit, but I felt it was worth a shot entering it anyways into the challenge.
The waiting period was 3 months long to see if I had even placed in the top ten, something I would not have minded at all. It was near the end of this three month waiting period that a huge flood struck the city of Thunder Bay, and my family had just lost everything we had in it.
It was a very depressing time, being that I was done school for the year and had missed out on two employment opportunities when I received two really good voice mails.
The first voice mail was one informing me that a previously lost job opportunity had resurfaced and I was eventually offered a summer student position writing for Wawatay News. I was ecstatic because now I could work until school started and put my family’s life back together again.
The second voice mail message was one from Alicia Dottiwalla from the Challenge, and she told me that she had some good news that she wanted to tell me over the phone. I called her back thinking maybe I had one third or second place – but then figured it may even be better than that because why would she want to tell me directly?
When I managed to get a hold of her, I received one of the best pieces of news in my life. I had actually won first place in the challenge. It was so crazy because it was something that I had written that was my own hard work, my writing, my heart, that had taken top spot in the national challenge.
It was a surreal experience.
I am very happy that I was able to shine a light on the issues affecting the youth in the city of Thunder Bay.
And I hope they know that even when your entire life is seemingly (or literally) washed away, and you feel as if you haven’t got one ounce of good luck or fortune, that the tides will turn.
You just have to learn how to swim with them and eventually you will find your relief – or your relief will find you.
Read Jonas on the Our Story website, and if you are between the ages of 13-29 perhaps you can enter the contest as well.