Stories of Hebron, Labrador

King140I recently had the pleasure of talking to a few folks who were born and raised in Hebron, Labrador but were resettled in 1959.  Hebron was a Moravian mission founded in 1831 and was the northernmost community in Labrador (at the time of resettlement).  As one former resident said, “I don’t call it resettlement.  I call it displacement.”  This woman was describing how families split up and went to different communities in Labrador.  Some family members went to Nain, or Hopedale, and others to Goose Bay.  It is sad to hear about families having to relocate however in Newfoundland and Labrador this is a story which is told again and again and is something which still happens today.

I spent a morning with one woman, Andrea Webb, originally from Hebron who currently lives in Goose Bay, and she told me story after story about her time in Hebron.  We looked at one photograph and this one photograph brought back memories of all aspects of her childhood.  She described the photograph to me showing who lived where and what the different parts of the buildings were used for (church, missionaries quarters, government buildings, store, and school).  One of the interesting parts of the church is the small building at the very end of the right side.  This little red roofed building was called the “dead house” and it is where the dead were kept and the coffins were made.

Andrea also described the food they ate while living in Hebron.  She told me how the porch in her house would be filled with dried fish, seal and caribou.  Her father hunted and fished for this food however this food wasn’t for her family – instead the food was kept for elders in the community who were unable to hunt for themselves.  Andrea described the foraging the children of the community would do.  She pointed out a small island which the children would walk out to when the tide was low to pick blueberries, blackberries, red berries, and bake apples.  The older children would play soccer, kickball, and softball on the flat field of Little Island[1] while younger children played tag and monkey dancing.  Andrea described the sandy beach on the right side of the church which was like the Florida Keys where children would sunbathe.

I heard similar stories from other people who lived in the community.  It was incredibly interesting to hear the stories of Hebron and it is even more incredible when you consider how difficult it is for people to share these stories.  While sharing the stories is painful for some people Andrea decided sharing Hebron stories is a project she would like to work on together with Them Days.  She is interested in setting up an event with Them Days for the people of Hebron to look at old photographs and share stories of their time in Hebron.  Andrea is interested in connecting with younger generation of children and grandchildren who have never known Hebron in order to share these stories with a new generation.  If you are from Hebron and are interested in getting involved in viewing old photographs and sharing stories of Hebron with your children and grandchildren please contact Them Days at (709) 896-8531 or editor@themdays.com.

[1] If anyone is able to let me know the correct spelling of the name of Little Island in Inuttitut I would love to add that to this blog post.

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Filed under Labrador Image Identification and Dissemination Initiative, Terra, the archives, Uncategorized

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