Nova Scotian screech-in gets thumbs down

A screech-in party during last weekend's Grey Cup festivities is not going over well with some Newfoundland traditionalists.

'Atlantic Schooners' adapt Newfoundland tradition for their Grey Cup party

A screech-in party during last weekend's Grey Cup festivities is not going over well with some Newfoundland traditionalists.

That's because the proceedings were organized and performed by a group of Nova Scotians who, for their down-east kitchen party, went by the title Atlantic Schooners.

Sheilagh Williams, who has screeched-in thousands of people — usually tourists, who are then deemed honorary Newfoundlanders after the light-hearted ceremony — for more than a decade with Spirit of Newfoundland in St. John's, was not impressed.

A group called the Atlantic Schooners from Nova Scotia held a Newfoundland-style screech-in during the Grey Cup. (CBC)
She said the Schooners' attempts to emulate a ceremony that she takes great pride in performing is insulting.

"I would just say it's wrong. It failed in my opinion," Williams said.

"There's a core part of a screech-in that must, in my opinion, be part of any screech-in. You must be able to say the key elements."

The Schooners, for example, recite the initiation with the phrase, " ... and long may your long jib draw," instead of the original "long may your big jib draw," meaning to draw wind in a sail.

"It's not 'long may your long jib draw. It's not a long jib," said Williams, who also insists a Newfoundlander must perform the ceremony for it to be legit.

Pushing for CFL team

The Atlantic Schooners are from Halifax, a city that's been pushing to land a CFL team for years. Each year they throw a party to show what the rest of Canadian football fans are missing.

And it appears they borrowed a little from their East Coast neighbours to enhance the experience.

Shanneyganock's Chris Andrews says the terminology tends to change depending on the issue.

"I once again find it funny that when it's appropriate we're all Atlantic Canadians, and where it's not, we're not," he laughed.

His view on the apparent cultural kleptomania?

"When you're the best, people borrow from you all the time. And if that's what it takes to help them attract more people to their tent and make it a better time for them, nothing wrong with it."

The Atlantic Schooners also flew a tonne of authentic Newfoundland Screech, the brand of rum that is traditionally used for the event, to Regina for the big party.

"(But) if they could afford to fly up 46 pallets of Screech, I'm sure they could have flown up one Newfoundlander to do the screech-in," said Andrews.

Williams, meanwhile, would rather the Maritimers drew on their own culture and tradition for such large, high-profile events.

"I don't find it flattering. It's just one more thing that people would want to take. But that's not up for the taking, in my mind. That's our tradition."

With files from Adam Walsh


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