Land of Many Shores: Perspectives from a Diverse Newfoundland and Labrador Edited by Ainsley Hawthorn

We are all familiar with the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism ads that flash across our television screens every Spring;  loaves of Nan’s homemade bread cooling on the kitchen table while, just outside the window, colourful quilts dance in the warm breeze against a backdrop of the cool Atlantic Ocean slapping happily against million-year-old granite. The sun is shining, the grass is a brilliant hue of green and Skipper up the road is on the front bridge tapping his toe to the fiddle. A 40-minute drive “up the shore” or “past the overpass” will confirm that our Irish and English ancestry is still very much alive as evidenced in our dialect, friendliness, and Friday night kitchen parties. This is what we are famous for. This life is what tourists pay to experience. But Newfoundland and Labrador is so much more than just codfish, colourful houses, and George Street. Land of Many Shores edited by Ainsley Hawthorn and published by Breakwater Books is a personal glimpse into the lives of other Newfoundlanders and Labradorians; citizens whose identities and viewpoints have been misconstrued, neglected or underrepresented. It is a true celebration of the diverse population that inhabits our land. 

Land of Many Shores is an anthology of poetry, essays and short narratives written by 24 authors who call, or have called Newfoundland and Labrador home.  Through their own words, they paint a portrait of their lived experience as Indigenous people and as people living with physical or mental disabilities. Their stories examine the importance and need for community and culture as marginalized and underrepresented peoples.  As workers in the sex industry and as members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community these authors explore the heartbreak of being misunderstood and the resilience required to survive. Yet other authors offer praise for the character that the Newfoundland people have become famous for but lament feeling left out of the “proverbial wolf pack”. The narratives are wonderfully written, offering unique perspectives while at the same time broaching the elephant in the room; who do we want to become?

Newfoundland taught me to be proud of who I am and where I come from. Not to feel the need to assimilate to others and maintain the status quo. It also showed me that by being myself, I could create the best connections with people. Connections based on authenticity and sincerity, instead of the fear and ignorance that can prevail when people see each other as anonymous members of large groups instead of individuals.                                                            

From Salaam B’y ~ A Story of a Muslim Newfoundlander by Aatif Baskanderi

Land of Many Shores ~ Perspectives From A Diverse Newfoundland and Labrador is a deeply personal and thought-provoking read. Each story provided a source of reflection and caused me to question my own lived experience as a Newfoundlander. Throughout the anthology, I found myself constantly questioning my own thoughts and belief systems about the Newfoundland culture, those of the community that I identify with and those of the larger populace. Some of the stories baffled me, others touched me deeply, and others saddened and angered me. I have come to realize that “our” traditional story as the ancestors of Irish and English settlers is important and we must celebrate and hang on to that history but our story continues to be written…it is not stuck in time. 

Some of us play the accordion, step dance, and eat Jiggs’ Dinner. Others play the qilaut, dance salsa, or eat shawarma. Some of us roll down Broadway in our wheelchairs instead of strolling on foot. Some of us go to work in the sex trade instead of in an office in Atlantic Place. All of these experiences make us who we are as a people. To dismiss them is to erase the richness of our culture, to discount our collective wisdom, and to alienate members of our own communities. To dismiss these experiences is to impoverish ourselves.                                              

From Mapping A Diverse Newfoundland and Labrador by Ainsley Hawthorn

Ainsley Hawthorn, Ph.D., (she/her) is a cultural historian, author, and multidisciplinary artist. Raised in Steady Brook, NL, and now based in St. John’s, she earned her doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University. Her expertise includes sensory studies, Mesopotamian literature and religion, Middle Eastern dance, and the history of language. Hawthorn is a past fellow of Distant Worlds (Munich) and the Advanced Seminar in the Humanities (Venice), and she has been invited to lecture on her research at universities in Germany, Austria, Italy, Canada, and the United States. Hawthorn is passionate about using her academic knowledge to bring new ideas about culture, history, and religion to a general audience. As a public scholar, she blogs for Psychology Today, writes for CBC, and has contributed to various other publications, including The Globe and Mail, the National Post, and the Newfoundland Quarterly. She is currently completing her first solo-authored non-fiction book, The Other Five Senses.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Breakwater Books (Sept. 30 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1550818961
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1550818963
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