To Whom It May Concern

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: August 12
Subject: submissions for your next edition?

To whom it may concern,

I am a writer and artist in Winnipeg. I recently participated in an art show called Canary in the Coal Mine where I exhibited my photography—even though I could not attend.

I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and the gallery was toxic to me, so I interacted via Ipad. I have also done a performance art demonstration about MCS in front of the Legislature Building in Winnipeg. The guards were very good about it.

So I have photography and writing from both of the art shows. Would this be something you are interested in?

Thank you,
Marie LeBlanc

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: September 7
Subject: Re: re: submissions for your next edition?

Thank you for your email. I am sorry I have not responded. I’ve been trying to find a place to live.

I left my rental suite due to mould exposure. The landlord denies it exists so I have been paying rent while not living in my place. I have couch-surfed at five different places so far. One good thing about not having a place to live is that I am learning new skills. I’ve helped to cut shrubs and have become a grounds keeper of sorts.

Sorry, my thoughts are all over the place.

When is your deadline?

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: September 18
Subject: photos?

Would you like to see images of my photos? Or the stories that go with them? I have one about my GP. He recognizes that there is mould in my apartment and has requested safe housing. There is a second where social assistance says they cannot help with housing. The third is about the employment program for people with disabilities here in Manitoba. They are unwilling to accommodate me and say I am not cooperating.

What is your word limit? And did you mention the deadline?

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: September 28
Subject: Re: re: photos?

img_3193-polar-bear-aquarium-4-almost-doneI’m sending a photo from the exhibit Canary in the Coal Mine. The polar bear is the canary, much like I am—a person with MCS in constant search for safe housing and basic needs—although even living in a zoo, a so-called safe place, polar bears are now getting human diseases, an early indicator of an unnatural and toxic environment. And the children in the photo—like our children’s and grandchildren’s future—are fragile, just a reflection on the glass. The photo looks so beautiful and elegant yet it represents a warning sign of what is happening to the human population. Are we the beginning of the end of the human species?

Please let me know what else you require.

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: October 12
Subject: no Internet

In case you are trying to get in touch: I’m going back to my apartment to scan my papers, letters and other documentation about my fight for safe housing. I could not scan these in the summer because it took too long and I couldn’t be in the apartment. So I just hauled my bins of papers to different locations. Seems like all I do is haul my bins around 🙂

Anyway, Internet will be spotty for the next little while.

The landlord has done nothing to fix the mould, by the way. He has just covered it up—a Bandaid fix. But I can’t be near the materials he used so I will have to be quick.

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: October 18
Subject: entire household on Kijiji

I am selling all contents in my place. Please see ad below and share as widely as possible.

Full contents sale. Everything must go in fully furnished apartment.  Would consider offers for ENTIRE contents. $2500 OBO.  Contents may have been exposed to mould. Most items have been cleaned; most people would not be affected. Some items of note: 3 metal office cabinets; new portable air conditioner; shelves; full wardrobe including boots and jackets, women’s small. All contents must go. Cash only please.

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: October 30
Subject: CTV interview

CTV Winnipeg is doing feature story on MCS next Tuesday. Beth Macdonell interviewed me wearing my hazmat suit.

I cannot find a safe place to to watch it however.

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: October 31
Subject: Another photo?

Encased by Marie LeBlanc

I am sending another photo. Can you use it? I call this one “Encased,” even though I am outside. I am always outside and it’s getting cold. I’m trying to find winter clothes now but when I go into stores I have a reaction and can’t think straight. People gawk and think I’m drunk. I often leave with nothing—or I just slap something on my credit card to get out of there. I did buy a jacket the other day. The store did not tell me it was a final sale. Well, the jacket is too small and now I am out $50.

Still no permanent place to live and I feel like an inconvenience to all who have gone out of their way to help me in this process.

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: November 1
Subject: Re: re: another photo

I forgot to mention that when I went to drop off the keys to my ex-landlord he made an extra effort to wear cologne! He asked for a hug and I said I couldn’t because he was wearing cologne. He said we were both victims of circumstance.

 

From: Marie LeBlanc
To: Understorey Magazine
Date: November 4
Subject: Thank you!

Since the CTV interview, many people have approached me on social media or by email about their story. I realize there are other people like me who struggle with lots of symptoms, especially confusion and concentration issues. I feel helpless but I do like the process of talking with others.

Thank you for your help and support. I’d love to visit Nova Scotia again. If I could find a good used car I’d take off across the country and leave all this behind. Maybe some day.

Marie

image_pdfimage_print
Marie LeBlanc

About Marie LeBlanc

Marie LeBlanc grew up in the Pas, Manitoba, and now lives in Winnipeg. She is a self-taught photo-based artist, performance artist, writer and poet inspired by the world around her. Marie's work ranges from formal and aesthetic to the conceptual and political. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced Major) Degree in Human Geography and Sociology from the University of Manitoba and is a graduate of Artbeat Studio’s artist in residency program and Martha Street Studio’s Making Our Mark II mentorship through the Arts and Disability Network of Manitoba, which culminated in the curated Canary in the Coal Mine Exhibition in 2016. She has been active in many committees to create awareness for people with various disabilities. She was awarded the Mental Health Volunteer Hero of the year in 2012 and has helped coordinate mental health walks. Marie believes creative expression through art and entertainment is healing for your body, mind and soul. Marie has exhibited extensively throughout Manitoba and her work has been published in GEEZ magazine, Community News Commons, The Metro and the Wolseley Leaf. Her photography and her journey as a person with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity has been featured on CTV News Winnipeg and CKUW 95.9FM Radio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *