Labradorians rally to keep beloved magazine Them Days on track

·3 min read
Rebecca Martel/CBC
Rebecca Martel/CBC

It was a tough year for the only magazine dedicated to the history of Labrador, but the people who keep Them Days running are confident the long-running publication has a strong future.

An administrator quit, the COVID-19 pandemic scratched a crucial annual general meeting in March, and Aimee Chaulk, the editor of more than 10 years, left on maternity leave in April, with her replacement exiting after that.

Alex Saunders, who was chairing a board that was down to just a couple of other members, said the group took some advice from Chaulk on how to get through the months to come.

"[It] was Aimee's suggestion that we use guest editors for each edition, and that worked out well so far," Saunders told CBC's Labrador Morning.

The idea had been in the back of Aimee Chaulk's mind for a while. She had planned to enrol guest editors for help when she returns from her leave in the spring of 2021, but it was clear the publication needed the help now.

"At Them Days, we do have a lot of community support," said Chaulk. "People really like the magazine, so the guest editors that we've had while I have been gone are sort of the regulars."

Them Days runs on subscriptions and an operating grant, and has always been dependent on volunteers through more than four decades of collecting stories and photographs about Labrador history.

John Gaudi/CBC
John Gaudi/CBC

Volunteers answered the call

When it came to strengthening the number of people sitting on the board, the community also rose to the challenge.

This is our heritage. This is us, this is all about us." - Mike Broomfield

"I just heard that things weren't going so well," said past chair Mike Broomfield. "So I figured I'd come to check it out and see if there is anything I could do to help."

Broomfield said he was glad to see others step up, and added that many Labradorians just can't imagine Labrador without Them Days.

Rebecca Martel/CBC
Rebecca Martel/CBC

"This is our heritage," said Broomfield. "This is us, this is all about us."

Tracey Doherty, another board member, felt the same way. She thinks with all that passion put under difficult circumstances and with very few people to make timely decisions, tension did rise up among board members.

"Of course when you get into a bit of pressure or stress, your personality kind of rises to the occasion and maybe there are some conflicts," said Doherty. "But we worked through it."

AGM may happen virtually

In the end, the importance of that magazine trumped any personal disagreements.

On the agenda: how to organize the delayed annual general meeting, and whether to do it together or on a virtual platform.

Rebecca Martel/cbc
Rebecca Martel/cbc

Speaking with Labrador Morning, the members of the board all seemed to agree on one thing: an eagerness for Chaulk to step back into her role.

"I guess I've been there the longest now," said Chaulk. "So for the board, I provide a sense of continuity. I guess that's why they look to me for some support."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador