Nfld. & Labrador

Black Tickle Come Home Year brings hope for community's future

The population of Black Tickle has more than doubled this week as former residents return for a “Come Home Year” celebration.

Remote Labrador community more than doubles in size for Come Home Year

Hundreds of current and former residents enjoy a community breakfast in Black Tickle. (Facebook)

The population of Black Tickle has more than doubled this week as former residents return for a Come Home Year celebration.

"I believe this event has brought hope to the community," says organizer Mildred Montague.

Current and former residents reunite during Black Tickle "Come Home Year". (Facebook)

Around 120 people call the remote Labrador community home, but Montague estimates there are 300 people coming to the island for the Come Home celebration.

"We had a community breakfast yesterday morning and we served approximately 250 people.  And we delivered meals to elders in the community and others who could not get out for any other reason."

Montague told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning that there has been a desire for a Come Home Year in Black Tickle for some time.  So last year, she and a friend began applying for funding and organizing fundraising activities.  Now, the celebration is in full swing, and will feature a week of free, family-oriented activities.

Montague said things got off to a great start on Sunday with a church service.

A church service during Black Tickle "Come Home Year" was filled to capacity. (Facebook)

"It's the first time the church has been filled to capacity and overflowing since, probably the late 80s when we had a resident priest here in the community."

Montague is also one of the people coming home. She left the community 16 years ago and now lives in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This week, she has been taking her 11-year-old daughter around the community and noticing how much has changed.

"For one, of course, the population. But it seems we had a lot of activity here when I was growing up as a child, but certainly as the population has declined, so have some of those things." says Montague.

The remote Labrador community of Black Tickle is accessible only by plane or ferry during the summer. (Facebook)

"We went to the school yesterday to get bingo cards for a bingo game last night, and even the school has changed because the numbers are down."

Black Tickle has struggled since the collapse of the cod fishery. There is no major employer in the town, no road access, no high-speed internet. Even the town's lone gas station shut down in 2015.

But Montague says this week's Come Home Year celebration is breathing new life into Black Tickle.

"I can't put into words to describe the feeling in the community hall." she said of Monday's community breakfast.

"People were smiling, the elders were sharing stories with the children, people were talking, it was just a fantastic morning."

"We know the mood has been very sad, very down. And this event has been an occasion where people are celebrating. Celebrating the past, celebrating now and sharing those things with grandchildren, with extended family, but also talking about the future and what that might look like, and the community's future.

"It's just hopeful, I believe."

A bonfire in Black Tickle during "Come Home Year" celebrations. (Facebook)


Zach Goudie is a journalist and video producer with CBC in St. John's.

With files from Labrador Morning