Everything That Lies Beneath (And Some Things Above)

Tonight I attended a presentation from the Newfoundland Labrador Archaeological Society & Labrador Institute on archaeological finds in Labrador; namely the artifacts donated by Carol Brice-Bennett upon her departure from the Labrador Institute.

One of the takeaways from this presentation that I attended was a heart-stopping moment when an elder Inuit woman said, “I am from here,” when archaeologist Anatolijis Venovcevs spoke of his favorite artifact, a brick, found at Hebron in Labrador. For anyone who does not know, Hebron is the former site of the Moravian Mission that inhabited the area beginning in 1830 and was disbanded in 1959.

You may recognize the name Hebron because of the collection of news stories that tell the tale of the Abraham Ulrikab family that were from Hebron and were exhibited in zoos in Europe in 1880. Besides the partially grim history, many Inuit have warm memories of Hebron, and it was very easy to hear the sorrow in the Inuit woman’s voice as she said, “that’s my home.”

Another takeaway from the meeting for me was the fact that so many people showed up and showed genuine interest in the historical artifacts that were unearthed in Labrador.

One instance I spoke of personally during Q&A was the Maritime Archaic Indian Burial Mound at L’Anse Amour on Labrador’s southern coast. To this day, you might miss it while you’re driving towards the lighthouse. I don’t feel it gets the respect it deserves and should be cordoned off so that some passerby doesn’t disturb it, so that development doesn’t destroy it and see the historical landscape become irreparable.

The ultimate takeaway from this event? If you find an artifact, first off, don’t be scared. Take a photo if possible and record as best you can where you found it. Most people carry around phones with them that have GPS capabilities, write everything down. Be gentle with the object(s).

While it’s frowned upon to disturb artifacts, many people have them. I’m sure I have family members who have them (who I will be contacting later just to check haha). The main goal is to contact the provincial archaeology office and tell them what you have and where you found it. Because only then will proper documentation be made and sites like the Maritime Archaic Burial Mound be further protected from potential destructors. If no one knows it’s there, nothing can be done to save it and the history that it carries.

On my walk to the truck I was talking to an older gentleman about the sites we were interested in, the artifacts that we found interesting, and he asked me if I was an archaeologist. I have to admit that made me smile.

Keep diggin’.


The following pictures show some of the things that were unearthed and/or discovered at sites ranging from Conception Bay, Newfoundland to Ramah Quarry, Labrador. Descriptions taken from Venovcevs report linked above.



Bad Apples, National Poetry Month reading at the HVGB Town Hall Pt. 2

My view today as I read my poetry at the town hall. I mostly scribble my thoughts on small pieces of paper and today I stood with a clipboard full and it felt like I was yelling at an invisible bully. My poem, Bad Apples, was about Goose Bay’s uneducated response to the federal governments desire to have 5 Wing as a processing site for Syrian refugees. A large portion of the town was very critical to the point of being racist, and my poem was a response to that.


Bad Apples

it’s called poetry
you can say more than you can normally
cleverly disguised in witty banter.
don’t we all think the same thoughts?
his skin is not the same color as mine
but his heart circulates the same dark blend
at 80 beats per minute
the only difference is
with each breath he takes he’s wondering
who he’s offending
just by being
—- are we?
where is he not sleeping tonight,
with his shoes still on
ready to run.
there is no directory for kindness
just the pit in your stomach
telling you, you should have done more
you should have said more
moved mountains through hell and high water
home is a universal truth, like actions speak louder than words but please
hear my words
show a little more kindness and understanding
bad apples are only made when you’re not paying attention.
please don’t sell me preferential kindness
please don’t tell me to catch my breath
to hold my tongue
to turn a deaf ear
not when children aren’t sleeping
not when bombs crack the foundations of everything that is good,
not when streets are a default grey and stained red
please don’t tell me to mind my business – it’s everybody’s business.
bad apples are only made when you’re not paying attention.


Christmas River, National Poetry Month reading at the HVGB Town Hall

Today I spoke at the Happy Valley Goose Bay Town Hall for the proclamation of National Poetry Month. This is a new poem that I wrote for the occasion, straying outside of my comfort zone and being critical of where we, as a town, are heading because of the Muskrat Falls mega project. Poetry isn’t always pretty. I had a chance to say something, so I chose to say something meaningful.


Christmas River

have you ever rested beneath a tree
looking up at the sky and its puzzle of branches
nature is beautiful
I find myself thinking, where are they?
I hope the spring run-off
takes all of your fears
and those unclaimed have found peace

this river runs green
but it also runs red
another challenging Christmas
for the river thief

I watch while the foreman wipes his nose
and clears his throat of complicated debris
we wait for the alarms

when Christmas came it was powder white
but all of the flakes were alike
she held her tongue and accepted the abuse

I cannot mistake what I’ve seen
tearing at the fabric of everything that makes us, us

what were you thinking when you crossed the line?

where will we be when Christmas is over?