Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Coming back to Nain

Nain's brass band
There's a little community in Nunatsiavut that I've loved since the first time I visited -- it's the northernmost inhabited community in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the largest community in Nunatsiavut and its administrative capital. I first visited Nain in 1994 via the M.V. Northern Ranger, as part of a cruise along the coast. In those days, the Ranger operated out of Lewisporte on Newfoundland's northeast coast, and the trip took in all the small ports along the way, including St. Anthony, Red Bay, and Cartwright on the way to Goose Bay - Happy Valley. Today the vessel still runs, but it's now operated by Nunatsiavut Marine and plies the coast only from Goose Bay northward, stopping at Rigolet, Makkovik, Postville, Hopedale, and Nain, with a stop in the Innu community of Natuashish as well.

On the roof!
My most recent visit, though, was from a different vessel: the Ocean Endeavour, operated by Adventure Canada. I was delighted to see that Nain would be one of the stops on their Newfoundland and Wild Labrador cruise in 2015, and was eager to return to the place where there were so many wonderful memories. The icing on the cake was that the stop happened to fall on my birthday, July 11.

Carver John Terriak

In the years since I'd been to Nain, a very important development had taken place: the local brass band, established by the Moravian Church as part of its outreach to the coast, had been resurrected through the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers and advocates including Dr. Tom Gordon of Memorial University, who was a fellow staffer on the Adventure Canada team.When the Ocean Endeavour arrived, the band was there to greet us -- and after a welcome at the little white church near the public wharf, the band members followed tradition and climbed from the church tower onto the roof to play so the sound would carry better!

The welcome in Nain was as warm as ever, thanks to Tourism Nunatsiavut, and there was time to explore the community, see a demonstration of soapstone carving by noted carver John Terriak, taste some local delicacies like partridge soup and pitsik -- dried char -- and do a bit of shopping for soapstone, sealskin, knitted goods and other keepsakes before a reception with Inuit games at the local school; a buttery-soft sealskin eyeglass case seemed like the perfect birthday present, and by chance, the young man who sold it to me was celebrating his birthday as well -- along with his twin brother! We wished each other a happy birthday, and I was on my way.

The perfect keepsake

It was a delight to return to this little spot after an absence of nearly twenty years; I've promised myself it won't be so long before my next visit. Nain is on the itinerary of Adventure Canada's Greenland and Wild Labrador
cruise for 2016.

Leaving beautiful Nain

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