Food, Stories and Songs of This Place: Celebrating 50 Years of Folklore Education in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Our event, “Food, Stories and Songs of This Place: Celebrating 50 Years of Folklore Education in Newfoundland and Labrador,” was held on the evening of June 1st, 2019 in the School of Music on Memorial’s St. John’s campus. The event was organized to celebrate two landmark moments in the study of folklore in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Firstly, the academic year 2018–19, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of Memorial’s Department of Folklore and Folklore & Language Archive (MUNFLA); this event was the culmination of a year-long celebration of this milestone. Secondly, from May 31st to June 2nd, 2019, for the first time in over 20 years, the Department of Folklore hosted the annual conference of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada (FSAC), welcoming more than 70 folklore scholars from across North America, Europe, and Asia, many of whom are Memorial alumni. The theme of the conference was “Home,” and this was reflected in our event’s focus on “This Place,” Newfoundland and Labrador, as home both to those who live here and to the many students of folklore who have studied here over the past five decades.
The event was geared towards FSAC delegates, alumni and current members of the Folklore Department, and also the general public. It began with an informal dinner reception featuring Rocket Bakery's interpretations of traditional Newfoundland dishes and ingredients, in keeping with the theme of “This Place.” Interactive exhibits by both graduate and undergraduate students, Shannon Bateman and Donna Norvey respectively, along with a short film created by current Folklore PhD student Ehsan Mohammadi, with editing assistance from Derek Norman of the HSS Digital Research Centre (Film Unit), were on display, highlighting the Department’s development and reflecting on its status as home. A student musician, Naomi Brown, entertained all in attendance during the reception with a selection of traditional Newfoundland fiddle tunes.
The reception was followed by a music and storytelling concert organized in partnership with the St. John’s Storytelling Festival and held in the D.F. Cook Recital Hall. The concert featured not only performers Anita Best and Kelly Russell, who have close connections to the Department, but also Tama Fost and Sophie Angnatok from the province's Indigenous community. The host for the evening was Folklore alumnus Dale Jarvis, Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer for Newfoundland and Labrador. A contribution towards the event was included in the conference registration fee for FSAC delegates; other participants purchased tickets through the Alumni Engagement website. Additional funding was greatly received from Memorial University's Office of Public Engagement, the Faculty of HSS (Dean's Office), and the Scholarship in the Arts.