Dear Newfoundland

Dr. Joshi is a born and bred Newfoundlander. He graduated from Memorial University’s Medical School and completed his internal medicine residency at Eastern Health in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 Dr. Joshi is a licensed internal medicine specialist who is leaving the province to pursue a fellowship in Adult Clinical Immunology and Allergy at the University of Manitoba. He won an international critical acclaim for his radio column “Dr. C” which narrated his experience as a cancer patient receiving treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma. On the last day of his most recent visit home, he wrote this:

Common scenery found in Newfoundland and Labrador

Common scenery found in Newfoundland and Labrador

Dear Newfoundland,

I’m leaving you again. And I hate it. Everytime I’ve had to leave you for a significant portion of time, I hated it.

There are many beautiful places in the world. Strange nooks and famous walkways that have amazing stories. They’re beautiful to visit. But what I’ve longed for is home. Being away is not the same. It feels like the oxygen is being depleted from me with every breath that isn’t on the island. I’m missing another joke my friends made over brunch or memory my family are making without me. I know time is passing. I see it on the faces of the people I love. But what remains the same is that feeling that being in Newfoundland gives you the moment you step off the plane. That no matter who you are, no matter what part of the earth you’ve known, the language you’ve spoken or the things you’ve seen, you are home.

I came back to you weary of the world and people. Weary of cynicism and pretention. A world that speaks in a weird jargon I don’t understand. It leaves me longing for people who are kind and plain-spoken. Working as a physician after working in Newfoundland is tough; it’s easy to help people who are kind, who show courage and humour through suffering. It’s tougher to help when people seem indifferent by comparison. Indifference is what kills the soul of the world. Maybe that’s why I love being home. The province and the people in it have heart; they’re an incredibly open and generous people. They care about family, and friendship, about their word and their work. They know the secret to living is to steal as much happiness from life as you can before you pass.

It’s strange to live in this time of history, where the world seems awash with hate and intolerance. I never knew about that growing up. I had a childhood of happiness and support, where my teachers, neighbours and friends made our community brilliant in ways I couldn’t appreciate. I learned about racism at the age of 12. And you know where I learned about it from? Television.

Now, after many years, I know a bit more about the edges of life, the places where people sometimes get cut. It’s in the dangerous places like love, hate, pain and ignorance. And even though I sometimes bled in Newfoundland, unlike every other place it did its best to soothe my injury. It did its best to love me the way I loved it, and that’s something the rest of the world should envy.

The islands’ call affects people from far and wide. My friends J and M, are incredible South African born physicians, who left warm beaches and booming practices for St. John’s four years ago and continue to live here. I always tell the story of how I went to visit them for lunch when they first moved here, and how M opened the door a crack, with the chain still on, peering around it even though it was the middle of the day. I had never seen someone open a door like that. “I’m not here to murder ya!” I joked, and we laughed. But later I realized stupidly that they of course had lived through apartheid and seen violent crime daily as physicians. Peace of mind is a highly underrated commodity and worth the weather a thousand times.

There many critical challenges now in Newfoundland. But I’m not one of the people to prescribe answers. To be honest I try to only write about things I know, which seems to be a startling rarity these days. But what I will say is that I think the way forward is us together, with the things that make Newfoundland so brilliant: family, friends, entrepreneurship and music. But most importantly food. Delicious, glorious, local food.

Whatever your day contains, I hope you get a chance to relax and live the simple things deeply. Because you who get to live in Newfoundland are blessed.

-N. ■

This story was written by Dr. Nikhil Joshi, a Newfoundlander, Memorial University Medical School graduate, and an internationally critically acclaimed radio columnist. Dr. Joshi completed his Internal medicine residency in Newfoundland, leaving the province to pursue a fellowship in Adult Clinical Immunology and Allergy at the University of Manitoba.

35 responses to “Dear Newfoundland

  1. Beautifully written! I moved away 22 years ago and came back 12 years ago, glad to be home most days ! I used to say there was a pull in your blood, that made you long for home

    • What a pleasure to read! We left Newfoundland after living there for 35+ years. It still feels heart warming and like being wrapped in a “warm blanket” to go back because your are drawn into the arms of the people!

  2. What a beautiful story. It’s a good reminder for me of what is important in life; home, family and community. I will find time today to take a moment enjoy this beautiful province of ours. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. I love this story. There is something about Newfoundland that draws you back home. While living in Alberta, (up-a-long) everytime I met a Newfoundlander, I felt a kinship to that person, like they were family. Its sad the whole world isnt like this.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story with us all. It is a true reminder of who we are here in Newfoundland. I moved away for almost 20 years and the day I arrived back on the island it was the most exciting day I had in year. Good Luck to you dear Dr. and may you return to us soon. All the best

  5. Wow!! What. Wonderful testament to Nfld., you are a true son, sorry you have to leave, but I know the people that you interact with on your journey, will be better because they met you.God Bless, and have a great life.

  6. Awesome read.we take our beautiful province for granted unfortunanly.but as we get older we appreciate it more.i love where we live away from all the trama and violence.i wish you Well as you continue your studies, and return to newfoundland again some day.

    • Wow, your reply to this story is the same as I thought when I read this. You should, however, learn to punctuate. Too many people see Newfoundland as a place to joke about, because of how we talk, and using poor punctuation, not using a capital letter when you write “I”, and even in your own last name, is a written version of dropping the “h” from words or saying “I loves ya!”.

  7. My longing for home resulted in my purchase of a house there in 2003. It’s where I head when the Tennessee summer makes me long for cool nights and ocean breezes. Owning that house has allowed my children and grandchildren to become connected to their roots and their relatives. I’m 74, and I already dread the day I can no longer make that trip.

  8. Dearest Dr.Nick. I remember fondly the days you touched our lives on our floor…they MADE my day & turned what was not a good one into smiles & laughter.

    Being a Newfoundlander is yes a blessing & I’m afraid you really don’t realize it until you leave.
    But..I know it’s God’s country & we should all treat it as such.

    Good luck up away & return soon. You’re one Newfoundland son we can’t do without.

  9. With all the things going on in the world, from the unpleasant to the truly evil, I often feel how blessed I am to live in this quiet little corner of the world.

  10. As the song the Ennis Sisters sing,we are the Fortunate ONES We are truly blessed to live in this beautiful place where people care about each other , people are genuine and sincere . We recently moved to rural NL and the people are beyond kind .Our people are our greatest resource by far .

  11. Well written Nik and I know it’s straight from the heart. Best of luck in your future endeavours wherever they may take you.

  12. What a wonderful story, and you are truly a great son of our great province. Good luck in your new work, I just know you will make us “Newfies” proud. I moved away from my home province Newfoundland, in 1980, but I always had a longing for home, so we moved back 3 years ago and we are loving it.

  13. Really enjoyed listening to you on CBC.I marveled how you managed you sickness and made me smile everytime also makes me proud to be a Newfoundlander.Good luck in your career and come back soon

  14. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful, heartfelt story. The older I get ,the more I appreciate our province and its people. All the best to you and your family as you continue your journey. May God Bless you and keep you strong !!

  15. WOW how true it is I left Newfoundland 57 years ago and it is still hone to me when I do get a chance to go home I get off that plane and first thing I do is breath in a few good breaths of that wonderful air. I love the story of the lady who opened her door with the chain still on brings back memories to me I let a man into our apartment he wanted to use the phone I was home by myself next time he came back my husband was home I said I let him in to use the phone I got a lecture never open the door to a stranger. I was shocked.

  16. A privilege to read, I have often said that we are so lucky to have been born in Nl. I have been gone for 20 years and miss it every day…from a reader living in NS, originally from Port aux Basques.

  17. “Peace of mind is a highly underrated commodity and worth the weather a thousand times.” – beautifully written and so very true. Thank you, congratulations and best wishes in your fellowship .

  18. Those of us who have Newfoundland roots and have lived there feel like we share a “secret”.A pure and gentle feeling that we can tangibly experience when we think of our island .I pray that never changes.
    Enjoyed your story to the fullest.Best Wishes

  19. I just returned home 10 months ago after 28 years in Ontario. I love being close to family, the hiking, the views, the weather, the politics, the SL Laurentians, etc.

    Paul Lambe CFP FMA | RBC Royal Bank | Royal Bank of Canada |
    337 Freshwater Road, St. John’s, NL A1B 3N4
    664 Topsail Road, St. John’s, NL A1E 2E2

  20. Loved this article. I left home at 20 and here I am at 57 and every time I come home I feel the same way. I love this province and I am a very proud islander and so look forward to the day when I can come home and not have to dread the day I will have to go again.

  21. As always I find Dr.Joshi’s very eloquent words very inspiring.He will have much success in life with his deep understanding and humanity.

  22. Dr. Joshi, continued blessings as you journey. Left Nfld 22 years ago and in a few weeks will be returning. My Son has health issues and it is my hope that some of the things you mentioned in your article, Friendships, love of Family and just the beautiful surroundings will help him attain a greater quality of life. I do believe in miracles.

  23. Such words that speak the truth for many of us who have moved to other places in this world of ours but long for the simple wonderful life that Newfoundland offers. My heart and soul will always belong to Newfoundland❤️

    • The older I get the more I miss Nfld,left there in 1958 would go back tomorrow,but that would mean leaving children and grandchildren if I did that,trading one heartache for another,and never feeling complete.Loving Nfld

  24. What an great read and strong felt appreciates for the love of Newfoundland.
    I believe most Newfounland people that leave will always return home and then realize that true happiness is on the island of Newfoundland.
    Left home when I was 20 years old and I spend my days and years counting down my time when I get to go home and truly feel happiness.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s