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The People of Labrador ~ Emma Vaasjo

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

I went to Labrador for the dogs. However, once we arrived, it soon became apparent that it might be the people who would leave a more lasting impact.

Dr. Becky Jackson greeted us warmly on our first day in Happy Valley–Goose Bay, as did some other volunteers, the lovely couple of Mick and Tish. As we travelled to the hotel, and to Becky's for a welcoming barbecue, everyone was kind enough to show us the sights around town and give us a bit of local history. We had a lovely time eating and getting to know each other better, all in the good company of Mick, Tish, Becky, and her outgoing technician, Michelle.

Even though we left very early the next morning, comfortable rides to the airport were provided, with everyone waiting to make sure we got away safely. Becky and Michelle stayed in contact with us during our clinics and ensured we had everything we needed, even on very short notice!

In the smaller communities of Labrador we were met with even more kindness. April and Denise in Makkovik gave us their time, supplies, rides, food, and even places to sleep. Everyone was invested in making sure we enjoyed our stay, and we certainly did. Denise took the time to show us around town and was a wealth of knowledge about life in Northern Labrador.

Andrea Jack with salmon

April and her step-father, Dean, also added to our experience by taking a few of us out each evening to check their nets. They both carefully took the time to answer questions about local scenery and wildlife, and Dean was more than willing to show us his beautiful cabin.

Dean was also incredibly helpful with our transport from Makkovik to Postville, along with April's brother, Errol. They both volunteered an entire day to take the group and all of our supplies on a borrowed fishing boat. It wasn't the calmest of days, and our trip, along with the company of Dean and Errol, turned into one of the most memorable adventures of our time in Labrador.

In Postville we met an incredible group of women, Joanne, Melanie, and Gail spent time and energy in helping us organize the clinic. Our time in Postville felt more like a vacation than hard work thanks to their generosity. Sheila, a Nurse Practitioner, proved invaluable by providing not only supplies, but support and enthusiasm for the project. We also met many wonderful residents, Polly who helped transport what seemed like most of the pets in town to us.

Emma, in Postville, 2013

We were so grateful to have to chance to interact with everyone we met; every owner was thankful and kind, every volunteer and observer made our experience that much better.

I couldn't possibly end this post about the people that helped along the way without mentioning the veterinarians that gave their time not only to the animals of Labrador, but also to teach us! Kyle, Elise, and Nicole were excellent teachers, and even better company. We simply could not have functioned without our technician and resident Mom, Andrea. We also could not have made it off the island without Drs. Marti Hopson and Lisa Miller. Thank you all so much for everything. I'd also like to thank my classmates (almost colleagues!), Sam, Lauren, Jonathan, and Ashleigh, for being positive, enthusiastic, supportive, and hilarious throughout our trip.

See you again soon, Labrador.

(Emma Vaasjo, AVC 2014 travelled to Makkovik and Postville. Students are asked to write blog posts on their experiences and impressions of the North )

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