Text: Nathalie Landry
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos and video: Georges Brun et Cindy Roy with contributions from Rachel Richard-Léger
Music: Monique Poirier
Special thanks to: Catherine, Rachelle and Éliane Desjardins.
“Reading is surrendering to our imagination… In my opinion, this is one of life’s greatest pleasures.”
It is this passion that Cindy Roy loves to share with children. The Dieppe-based author has published a series of mini-novels (i-Fée and Fée Planchette – Éditions Boomerang), which is very popular among young francophone readers. The main character and inspiration behind the series, which Cindy enjoys impersonating, is Féeli Tout, a storytelling fairy who enchants young and old alike.
Who would have thought that the Petitcodiac River would inspire Féeli Tout and all of Cindy’s stories? Sure enough, Féeli Tout is a fairy that lives among the marshes of the chocolate river.
“When they opened the causeway gates, I saw the tidal bore come back to life”, recalls Cindy. “Strangely enough, this was around the same time as I was coming back to life as well, by discovering myself as writer and storyteller. The river was becoming itself again. It is as if the river was giving me the courage to just be ME and follow my heart.”
“For the past three years, I’ve gone out by the river quite often. This is where I discovered myself as a writer and storyteller.”
She says she experienced several self-awareness and revelatory moments by the banks of the river.
“Whenever I walk along the river, I find inspiration. I really wanted to write something that takes place right here, next to the Peticodiac River.”
Cindy hails from the small village of Charlo in the Chaleur region in New Brunswick. She has lived in Dieppe for 20 years. A former teacher, she is the mother of 3 children and lives in a house about two feet away from an access to the riverfront trail. At first, she did not know that the river’s presence, and its tidal bore, would have a huge impact on her life.
“For a long time, I’ve had my work station set up overlooking the marsh. To think of it, I’ve always been very attracted to the river. When I came to Moncton to study at the university, the Chocolate River’s banks became my refuge. This is where I would go to read or think. I would feel calm and at peace when I was near to the river. “
“A few years ago, I started a fundraiser for a friend of mine who has Multiple Sclerosis. I gave myself the goal to bike 20 km per day for each $20 donation. In the evening, I wrote a blog about my adventures and what I saw along the river’s banks. I biked for 40 days. I saw spring come and transform the landscape. I saw how alive this area is. This experience – and the river – made me realize how much I love writing and that I wanted to dedicate my life to it.”
Cindy took a sabbatical to concentrate on her writing. In 2012, she started taking part in book fairs and shows for children, dressed as her fictional character, Féeli Tout.
“When I dress up as Féeli Tout and tell stories to children, I always start by telling them: My name is Féeli Tout and I live in among the marshes of the Chocolate River. I’ve done presentations to children everywhere, so they’ve heard about the Petitcodiac River in Quebec and Ontario…. Our river is much better known than we think! A young girl even once told me: I wanna see the Chocolate River … and your magical marsh full of books! Can you take me away with you on your wings?“
What makes the Petitcodiac River so inspirational for this artist?
“It is a peaceful place and at the same time full of life and energy. The tidal bore always surprises me, like some sort of sign… Almost every time I go out, even without paying attention to the tide schedule, the tidal bore is there. The wave gives me energy. When I walk or bike near the river, the ideas just flow.”
Like many people who enjoy this beautiful place, Cindy firmly believes in the importance of protecting its environment. “We must take care of our river and let it evolve.”
“This is my river. It is part of me, just like my characters who live among its banks.”