A Tribute to Michael from Lindsey Childs

On Janurary 27th, the writer’s community here in Winnipeg, suffered a tragic blow. Michael Van Rooy, died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 42. He was the Writers’ Collective ‘s Program Coordinator, and he was our friend.

Besides working for the Writer’s Collective, he was also the administrator for the Canadian Mennonite University’s School of Writing, he was the publicist for The Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival and the President of the Board of Director’s for Prairie Fire Magazine.

As if that wasn’t enough, Michael was also an accomplished crime novelist who won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer in 2009. Michael’s crime series about Monty Haaviko, an ex-con trying to go straight, put him on the map as an author. Michael’s first novel, An Ordinary Decent Criminal has been published in Canada, the U.S. and Germany. Also, An Ordinary Decent Criminal’s film rights have been sold to Winnipeg’s Fairpoint Films. Hopefully, Michael’s stellar first novel will make it to the big screen.

Michael will be remembered as a husband. When he and I would talk, his eyes would light up every time he mentioned his wife, Laura Neufeld.

He was a father to three children, and you could not mistake the pride in his voice when he would talk about them.

He was a mentor, who got me through more than one tough patch in my life, and who encouraged me to keep writing. He believed in me, and he made me believe in myself.

But mostly, I think Michael will be remembered as a friend. A friend who always made time for the people in his life, despite his hectic schedule. When he talked to you, he made you feel special, and he was always genuine.

Michael was one of the best people I know, and he is greatly missed.

The Writer’s Collective asks for your continued patience and support while we look for a new coordinator, and while we grieve.

Speaking Crow will go on as scheduled.

We are hoping to keep all other programming going as scheduled as well, but please forgive us if there are a few hiccups along the way.

Just know that we are here, we are trying, and we are banding together as a Board and as a community to pull ourselves through this difficult time.

On February the 12th, at 7PM at Aqua Books (274 Gary Street), there will be a memorial to Michael Van Rooy, as well as a fundraiser to benefit Michael’s family. It will be a celebration of Michael’s life. As well, it will be a chance for all of Michael’s family, friends and fans to grieve together and to exchange our favorite stories about Michael.

Thank you.

-Lindsey Childs

Board Member of The Writer’s Collective

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