Wednesday: Hebron and St. John’s Harbor

An early wake up and Zodiac ride to Hebron. Hebron was another Moravian mission and Inuit village.  It was forcibly resettled in 1959.  Even though the village was self-sustaining the provincial government decided that it wasn’t sustainable.  The people who lived there were moved elsewhere. Some families were split and they weren’t always given the homes and job that they were promised. Maria an Inuit who is on the voyage had a grandmother who lived there and she talked about how painful the end of the settlement was.  At Hebron there is an apology monument, with not only the letter of apology from the government, but also a response from the Inuit that simply ends “We forgive you.”

It really is impressive how the Inuit, through peaceful means have gotten lands back under their control.  Nunavut and the Nunatsiavut territory of Labrador are new places (formed in the last 20 years or so) within Canada that are under the control of the native people.

At Hebron they are restoring the old Mission building and the Hudson Bay Company buildings.  Some of the men who work on the buildings were riding there with us on the ship.  They opened up the building that they have made stable, the old mission house.  We were able to walk through it.  There were piles of decorative tile and iron stove parts.  They were part of a radiant heat stove and the tile, and the bricks that were scattered throughout the site would have been brought from Europe and when I wondered about the weight, I was told they were used as ballast on the ship.

When we disembark in this region, there are bear monitors in orange vests who create a perimeter.  This time the perimeter was pretty big, encompassing all of the site and up to the ridge surrounding.  I wandered to the cemetery, and then over to where there are small houses that the restoration workers live in during the repair season.  Like other areas we have visited it was very boggy and there was a path of thin wooden planks to walk on, but I had left my ship boots on, so I just bogged along when the wooden path seemed a little rickety.

We went back to the ship and had lunch as the ship moved to St. John’s harbor, which is the base camp for the Torngats National Park.  The Torngats were established in 2006 as a result of land claims agreement with the Inuit.  The oldest rocks there are 3.9 billion years old!

There were various activity options from the epic hike up the side of a mountain, to the beach combers.  Ali and I went for beach combers and enjoyed poking around, looking at the streams and rocks.  There were many rocks that had cracks in them all the way through and you could tell if you touched them they would fall to pieces.  It’s possible I poked one and did a 1000 years’ work in busting it apart.

Billy, the artist had brought fishing tackle and he was fishing at the shore line.  He caught quite a number of Arctic Char and later Maria cleaned them and they were turned over to the chef.  It’s possible they will appear for eating at some point.

In the evening the Captain guided the ship through some narrow fjords to give us a closer view of the area.  Several black bears were spotted.  Tiny black dots, distinguishable because they were moving.  I spotted several bears that turned out to be only black rocks.  I’m not a natural naturalist, perhaps.

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