Four decades of Them Days

Alicia Elson
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Supporters of charitable publication, archive stage meeting, elections in Happy-Valley Goose Bay

A number of appreciation awards were also presented to previous board members for their volunteer services, including a special award to former chair of Them Days, Susan Felsberg, who has decided to step down after volunteering for the last seven years as chair and board member on the board of directors.

The editor of Them Days Inc. says the charitable publication and archive library welcomes new ideas, donations and volunteers to help out with the continued growth of the magazine.

Aimee Chaulk made the comment following the annual general meeting of Them Days in mid-March.

Each year, Them Days Inc. receives a grant from the province to run the magazine. This year, as well as in the previous year, Them Days was awarded a grant of $50,000.

Chaulk said the magazine's success and operations relies heavily on subscriptions to the magazine, retail sales, monetary and archival donations to continue its legacy for future generations.

"Volunteer, send in a story. It all helps us keep on going. It's what we've been doing for almost 40 years now," stated Chaulk.

Partners in research

Chaulk said Them Days Inc. is a wealth of knowledge to the public and they are always interested in working with the community in promoting and preserving Labrador's history.

Currently, Them Days is partnering in a project with Healthy Waters Labrador, an environmental conservation group from the area, to piece together the history of the once-thriving community of Birch Island.

Once the home to about 300 residents, located along the Churchill River, just outside of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the collaboration has recently been stirring up some old memories for past residents who once called the area their home.

"We've had a couple of events where we invited members of the former Birch Island community to come in and share their memories and their stories and photos. It's been a lot of fun.

"At one of our meeting there were neighbours from Birch Island who haven't seen each other since it was resettled and they ended up sitting next to each other at one of the tables and didn't realize it until they started talking, so it was pretty neat," Chaulk said.

"They're (Healthy Waters Labrador) trying to restore the wetlands and they're trying to clean it up. It's a big dumping area right now and I think they hope to eventually put in a boardwalk with some signage so they want some history to go on the signs so that when people walk around they'll know that this used to be a community," Chaulk said Wednesday, March 19.

"So were helping them figure out the historical research for their signs and story boards but also we want to put out a special issue all about Birch Island to go along with that project."

Early medicine

Another project in the works, pending project funding, is a possible re-issue of a 1998 Them Days Inc. publication titled, "Snowblind and Seal Finger: Stories of early Labrador Medicine," in which the information collected focuses on local and natural derived medicine used by families of Labrador.

"We wouldn't just be reprinting it, we'd also be doing new research and expanding the old issue, which is no longer available," Chaulk explained.

During the annual meeting, discussions also emerged from the small audience regarding a large inventory of back issued magazines still available for sale, the introduction of the magazine into a wider market, as well as using the magazine as a informative tool for newcomers to the area, such as employees of the Muskrat Falls project and encouraging schools within the province to invest in Them Days magazines as a resource tool for students.

Laying a legacy

A long-time resident of central Labrador, Susan Felsberg, became involved as a volunteer of the board of directors with Them Days Inc. in 2006 and chair in 2007. Felsberg decided to step down from the role and shared her thoughts after the meeting on her experience as chair and how she became interested in the magazine.

"There was a time, way, way back when I was a nurse in the community in Happy Valley, and to a lesser extent with the outside places on the coast. I knew a lot of the family links and we all grow up learning these. You know where a Mclean comes from, you know where a Learning comes from, and from a nurse's point of view you tie the families together.

"So I mean that's how I became aware and increasingly interested in all the Labrador people ... it's always fascinating," Felsberg said.

"We've now got a solid reputation and we have proved ourselves and people of course call up and want information." Felsberg said of Them Days Inc.

"Imagine all the pieces of paper, the old birth certificates, the old things worth saving, 'grandma's story just as she fades away and nobody else can remember it,' all of those things get to be saved or preserved and out of it comes a wealth of information whether it's just chatter stuff for the school children or whether it's a family wanting to remember where a great-uncle John lived a hundred years ago. All of those things could be tracked and traced or lead you on from one research to another."

Felsberg said while she is leaving the board, she is cautiously excited to see the future for Them Days Inc. including new partnership ideas with outside agencies who wish to collaborate and use traditional knowledge found in Them Days magazines for dissemination, and says Them Days will remain to be an invaluable resource to researchers near and far as long as there is a public interest.

Vacancies on the board

Five vacant positions for board member were up for grabs that evening and included chair, treasurer, and three directors-at-large.

Following the elections, two positions remain to be filled, including chair and treasurer. Those interested in the positions can contact Them Days Inc.

The following is a list of the individuals that were elected that evening to represent the Them Days board of directors: chair (vacant), Theresea Hollett (vice-chair), treasurer (vacant), Allan Bock (secretary), and at-large members Basil A. Dyson, Brandon Pardy, Randy Letto, Evelyn Winters, Kay Russell, Jill Larkham and Jennifer Best.

Geographic location: Labrador, Birch Island, Happy Valley Churchill River Goose Bay

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