For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features writer Verla Fortier, a former nurse and retired Professor of Nursing with a Masters’ Degree in Health Science. Two years ago, after forty-five years away, she returned to her home town of Pine Falls, where she grew up, on the edge of the boreal forest. Around the same time, Fortier learned that she had a serious chronic illness.
Although she was in her sixties and she had spent forty years as a nurse and nursing professor, she began to fully discover how being outside near trees, shrubs, and grass affects health and wellness. She found plenty of evidence to prove the game-changing qualities of green space, in the fields of physics, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, urban planning, forestry medicine, botany, ecology, geometry, and psychology. It transformed her life – and she wanted to show other people how it could change their lives, too.
She said, “I took a sharp left turn into tree research to control my fears of dying too early, losing my mind to dementia, and my illness running rampant.”
Fortier knew she wanted to write, and now she had a strong motivation. She took an online course on “How to Write Non-Fiction” and started creating her first book. In this publication, she tells her personal story, includes her research on urban green space, and provides practical tips that she learned along the way. She hopes the book and its companion workbook will save readers time, effort, and frustration so they can feel better than ever as they age, with or without chronic illness—whether they live in the city or the country.
Fortier’s book launch is scheduled for Wednesday, September 25, at Allard Regional Library in St. Georges. From 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., she will share highlights from her research and describe how her messy journey led to writing her first publication.
Her words of inspiration: “Spending time outside will make you live longer, prevent dementia, and control your chronic illness. The science is there.”