WINDSOR, N.S. – While breaking news frequently stole the spotlight in 2017, the Journal staff provided readers with a weekly intimate look into the lives of people that call this place home, work here or play here.
Hants' Faces Friday has been an ongoing effort that we’ve been publishing week after week since it began in 2015.
Hants' Faces Friday’s mission from Day 1 has been to highlight members of our community: their strength, challenges and humanity.
The format has remained pretty much the same since the beginning. We take a series of photos and have an open conversation. The end result is a glimpse into their life.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the people who welcome us into their homes, work sites and places of refuge as we continue this feature.
With that in mind, here are a few of the Faces Friday profiles from 2017 that we thought deserved another look back on – be it the personal stories, the pictures that captured them in their moment, or for the response they garnered on social media.
• Janet AuCoin LeBlanc, Windsor, on remembering her son, Nathan, who died from a rare condition called Dravet Syndrome.
“He taught a lot of people patience – and just to stop and enjoy what was in front of you, see what was there, and not where you need to go. He's taught me. Having the experience of seeing through his eyes has helped me a lot in life and as well as a teacher. Being able to stop and see through the eyes of the students that I'm teaching and being able to understand and have that patience with them, to be able to say 'OK, where are you going with this?, what are you seeing that I am not?' and enjoying the little things that they enjoy.”
• Jason Butler, Mount Denson, on finding those who are lost
“Fortunately most of our searches are successful, however, sometimes they are deceased and it becomes a recovery and our people can back out. They are volunteers, and some people just don’t want to deal with that. We can’t force it. But the other end of it, which is more prevalent, is the emotional high you get when you make the find. When you get the gratification that you found the person, a job done. Some of the searches that stick with you are the ones where there is no find, period. It remains a mystery. And there’s no closure, both for the family and for the searchers. Those are the ones you really remember and keep turning over in your mind, thinking about what you could have done different. There’s been a few of them. I spent a week in Parrsboro looking for an 89-year-old hunter, still no idea... But the finds are what really drives you. When you confirm you’ve made the find, for me personally I get butterflies. Nobody wants to go back and tell the family you’ve had no success. But when you find someone, that’s when the training kicks in. You get them stabilized, go through our checklist to make sure, medically, they’re sound. Check for hypothermia, make sure they have food, water, shelter, all that stuff. In some cases we set up camp, put up tarps, get a fire going and sit and wait until we can get, perhaps a Cormorant, or something.”
• Kamile Chater, Windsor, on falling in love with music
“I would go visit [my sister] in Tripoli for a week. I didn’t have a car, didn’t drive, so I would walk around and as I was walking there one day, I hear this music coming from somewhere and I kept walking towards it and there was this high-rise building and on the bottom there was a big window that was open and I looked in there and there was a band playing, and I’ll never forget the song. It was called A Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress. And I thought, ‘Oh my God, how can they do that?’ and that’s what got me into wanting to play so bad.”
• Chris Cuvilier, Hantsport, on learning from loss
“It just made me a lot hungrier to come back and, well, win — to compete and not give up in that sport. It was definitely a disappointing moment at the time, but it’s something that all of us who were on that team, that many years ago, will never forget. It was such a huge disappointment, but to turn it around in the years since then everyone has had success in that sport. A coach of mine that I have a lot of respect for, he said ‘you have to learn how to lose before you learn how to win,’ and that’s a perfect example of that. Not one of my fondest memories, but one of the biggest ones.”
• Angie Doucet, Windsor, on keeping memories alive through tattoos
“It was an emotional thing for me, and like a lot of my clients who come in for memorial pieces, it's kind of a healing, cathartic sort of thing. When you get to the point where it really hurts, you think about that person, who went through something way worse than what you’re going through, and it just helps you get through it. It’s kind of healing. It’s a way to have the person with you. Like, I have little ladybugs in my tattoo, and my little sister loved ladybugs, so it’s almost like a connection through ink.”
• Collin Levy, of Upper Vaughan, on the benefits of being a young hobby farmer
“I wouldn't call myself a hippie or anything like that. I just say it's more or less getting back to the basics. I think in today's civilization, we really need to get back to the basics because nowadays it doesn't seem to be as important. Everybody wants to live the healthy lifestyle, they want to eat the good food, but when you're buying it from a grocery store, you don't know what it is or where it comes from. It's trucked across the country in a big, vacuum-packed bag for meat. When you raise it yourself, you know what you've done to it. You know if the animal is sick, you give it medication to make the animal better. You know what you have on your plate is 100 per cent your own.”
• Josh Noiles, Brooklyn, on finding his calling
“When I was young and attending funerals here and in Springhill, where my dad’s family is from, I remember going to the funeral home and being exposed to what’s going on there. I just remember as a kid being really impressed with the funeral director. I always thought that was an esteemed position. I thought they were so helpful when I watched my parents and my family so upset and at a loss as far as what to do and it just always impressed me that the funeral director would keep his or her wits about them and had kind of a sense of humour and lightness and remained calm and offered direction during a rough time. I think that stuck with me as far as an admirable position, a position that would really help somebody. I always respected the funeral home and always had an interest in that industry, especially in a small town setting. Working in this industry in the area that I’m from, I get to know and work with a lot of the people I grew up with, people that my parents know, so that means a lot to me. I don’t know if I would want to do this job in the same way elsewhere. It’s an honour to help out the people you know.”
• Chip Peterson, Mount Denson, on becoming an iconic pumpkin paddler
“The very first race they had, I don't think there was very many people in that race – four or five at the most. My father was down from out west. He was home for it. My brothers were all there. We stopped and picked up pumpkins along the way. He thought 'I'm going to carve one and stick it on my head' so then he made enough of them for all of us. I said 'look at that pumpkinhead' and somebody heard it and it just kind of went from there. It's not really that big of a deal. It's more embarrassing than anything. But that's what I do every year now. I've kind of stuck with it.”
• Savannah Sullivan, Windsor, on dealing with a neurological disease
“It’s actually impacted me for the better I think. A couple things have been tough. My first year of university was hard, trying to deal with being away from my family and dealing with narcolepsy, trying to manage it on my own. It affected a lot of my courses and I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I actually dropped out, went to NSCC, did tourism there, travelling back and forth from home. That helped a lot with my grades. I graduated from that program and went back to the Mount, which is where I am this year and where I’ve had a couple of years of practising, managing it, knowing that when I need to take a nap, need to study, need to motivate myself. It’s a lot easier.”
• Adrienne Wood, Windsor, on looking beyond society’s constraints
“I think we need to be more open with each other. We live in a really constricted society. We are on our best behaviour all the time; we live in a box where society kind of dictates that you’re allowed to be happy, but not too happy, because then you look crazy. You can’t really be sad, you can’t really be too mad. We live in a really tight box, and for me, that seems really repressive. I feel that we let society dictate so much about how we live our lives and how we feel about ourselves and we’re doing so much to please other people and we forget to check in and live our authentic self. What really makes us happy? We forget to be honest with ourselves. I see people all the time, in my office every day, who are living with extreme anxiety or depression because they feel they can’t express who they are. Whether it’s to their parents, their partner, their kids — they aren’t free to be themselves and I see it all the time. I try really hard to be my authentic self and live my truth. So in that way, whatever I do, I know I can stand behind that. Even if people don’t like what I said or did, at least I know it was in line with my values and my beliefs and my truth.”