Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Amazing South East Bight

I meet the most amazing people writing my Inspirational pieces for The Newfoundland Herald and quite often the most inspiring isn’t what I called them for in the first place. Take the folks in South East Bight. I received a copy of a news release talking about how successful the Rice Day was at the school there. Great, sez I, a nice inspirational about students at a small school raising money for children on the other side of the world. Nice, right? I called the principal at St. Anne’s, one Elena Whyte, and discovered some amazing things. First of all I’m ashamed I didn’t know how remote South East Bight is, even though it isn’t far from my own community of Hr. Mille.
To get to South East Bight you have to travel by ferry and, from what I understand, it only travels once a day, weather permitting of course, except on Tuesdays when it doesn‘t cross at all . This community of 35 homes housing 100 people has a school with 13 children in it ranging from kindergarten to level one. When children get old enough to enter grade ten they must leave this little tight knit community in order to finish their education in another community with more resources. While some cross the ferry and are billeted out in homes in nearby Rushoon others travel further, live with relatives and attend school wherever these family members happen to live. I was in shock. Why in the world would anyone ever want to live in such a place?
Well, Whyte isn’t from South East Bight yet she says she could never imagine leaving. She arrived there to teach; for one year only, back in 1990 and never left. Whyte married a man from there and they have two sons. Besides being the principal, she is also the mayor. No, she couldn’t imagine leaving, she says, even as she faces the reality of having her own boys leave to attend school elsewhere.
South Easy Bight seems like an amazing place. Besides the regular fundraisers, like Rice Day which I will cover in my Herald piece, the folks in South East Bight-a place where most everyone is a modest, hard working fisher-support their community and beyond like no place I have heard tell of before. When members of the community found out someone who used to live there was fighting cancer they had a local fundraiser and raised over $1,200- in one week. But beyond these one of’s there is the yearly tradition of supporting Coats for kids and the Happy Tree. They get so many things for both drives that an RCMP boat has to come just before Christmas to collect all the goodies these giving people have to offer to others outside their little outport.
Of course they get a little in return. On the day these RCMP officer show up to collect the gifts and coats, Santa comes with them and the community has their local Santa Clause parade; starting from the wharf naturally, and winds through the community. The event ends with a little celebration and the children-all 13 of them-get a little gift from Santa before the boat has to head out again, taking Santa with him for another year.
I don’t know about the community you live in but I think most would be hard pressed to compete with the spirit of giving that comes from the little community of South East Bight.
I’ll be writing more about them in an upcoming edition of The Newfoundland Herald.

To find out more on Rice Day visit

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