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Newfoundland and Labrador

Al Pittman

Al Pittman was born in St. Leonard’s, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in 1940. At a young age, Pittman left Placentia Bay to move to Corner Brook. Pittman stayed in Corner Brook throughout his childhood and teenage years. Later he would head out to pursue further education at Salem Teacher’s College, and at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick. With his teaching degree, Pittman taught across Newfoundland, as well as in Quebec, before settling into a long-term position in the English Department at Memorial University – St. John’s campus, then Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook. In 1966, Pittman published his first book of poems, ­The Elusive Resurrection, and in 1973, Pittman, with Dick Buehler, Pat Byrne, Tom Dawe and Clyde Rose, began Breakwater Books – a publishing house that focuses on publishing books with authors from or content about Newfoundland and Labrador. From 1999 until his death in 2001, Pittman was a writer-in-residence at Grenfell College.

Geoff Butler

Geoff Butler was born and on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, and lived in Newfoundland throughout his childhood. As an adult, Butler attended Memorial University in Newfoundland before moving to New York State where he attended Syracuse University. He also studied at the Art Students’ League in New York City. Butler is a painter, writer, and illustrator. He has written and illustrated his own books, as well as illustrated books for other authors. His artwork has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and in 2006 Butler was elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Butler currently lives in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia where he continues to write and paint.

Janet McNaughton

Janet McNaughton was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1953. In 1979, McNaughton moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland to study at Memorial University, where she completed her M.A. and her PhD in folklore. During this time, McNaughton also married and had a baby. After the birth of her baby, McNaughton began writing reviews of children’s books. With the successful reception of her reviews, McNaughton was asked to become an executive of the Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland. It was at this time McNaughton began her professional writing career, feeling that as an executive of the Writer’s Alliance she should attempt to write novels. McNaughton currently lives in St. John's.

Joan Clark

Joan Clark was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and spent a few years there before moving to Sydney Mines, and later Sussex, New Brunswick. Clark was a student at both Acadia University and the University of Alberta. She lived in Alberta for about twenty years before moving back east to St. John's, Newfoundland. Clark has taught in schools, though not extensively, as she is a full-time author of fiction for adults and children. Clark is also one of the co-founders of the literary magazine Dandelion.

Kevin Major

Kevin Major was born on September 12, 1949, and grew up in Stephenville, Newfoundland. After graduating from high school, Major set off to Memorial University to study pre-med. Although he was accepted into medical school, Major chose instead to journey across the world. Upon his return to his native province, Major pursued a career in education. Early in his teaching career, Major became frustrated with the lack of written material on the culture of his own province and decided to take on the challenge of writing his own material. Beginning first with poetry, followed by short-stories, Major soon quit his teaching job to focus completely on writing. In 1978, Major's first novel was published and his life was changed. Hold Fast is often viewed as the first breakout Atlantic Canadian Children’s novel, and in fact, Sea Stacks selected 1978 as the research starting point for this project in honour of the novel. Major currently lives in St. John’s Newfoundland with his wife and children.

Photo credit: Victoria Wells

Saqamaw Mi'sel Joe

Mi'sel Joe was born on June 4th, 1947 in Miawpukek. Miawpukek is the traditional Mi'kmaq name for the community; the community is also known as Conne River. Mi'sel Joe comes from a strong Mi'kmaq family, and the office of hereditary Saqamaw, or Chief, was held by both his grandfather and his uncle. As a young man, Mi'sel Joe left the reserve, and worked in a variety of different positions before returning to the reserve. Once Mi'sel Joe had returned to Miawpukek he became strongly involved in First Nation politics, and after the death of his uncle in 1982, Mi'sel Joe became the Traditional Saqamaw, as well as the Newfoundland District Chief for the Mi'kmaq Grand Council. Mi'sel Joe is also the spiritual leader of his people. His knowledge and specialization in natural medicines and remedies has earned Mi'sel Joe international recognition, and he has spoken at several international alternative medicine conferences. Mi'sel Joe has a daughter and a granddaughter, and currently lives in Miawpukek with his wife.

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