Young adults are professing their pride in Newfoundland one purchase at a time.
Megan Warren says most young adults who grew up in Newfoundland can remember a time when their mothers told them not to leave the house looking like a ‘streel.’
It might seem odd that someone would want to wear a shirt that labels them as ‘untidy’ or ‘disreputable’ but in Newfoundland the word ‘streel’ can also be a term of endearment.
“That was always something mom called you,” said Warren, pointing to a rack of black t-shirts with ‘streel’ printed across them. “So a lot of people are like, ‘Oh my god yes’ when they see that shirt.”
She knows that people remember because the exclusive ‘streel’ shirts by Figgyduff Dory are among the best sellers at her clothing store, Ethereal Boutique. In fact, she says it’s hard to keep the section of apparel with Newfoundland-centric phrases stocked.
“You have a connection to it,” said Warren. “And people love that.”
Emily Oxford, 22, says she shops strictly local. She makes it a priority to represent her pride in Newfoundland through her purchases.
“It’s very important for me to represent my culture,” said Oxford. “It’s a part of who I am. I live here; I get everything from this earth.”
Philip Hiscock, a folklore professor at Memorial University, says Newfoundlanders have been wearing their pride on their sleeves for more than 30 years. But recently they’ve been making a comeback among millennials with ties to Newfoundland.
“This sort of thing is not new,” said Hisock. “It simply is attending to a market that is contemporary, but it’s a wheel that’s been turning a long time.”
Proud to shop local
Storefronts downtown are filled with local artists and entrepreneurs trying to make a go of their dreams, and Warren says selling local and cultural apparel is important to keep St. Johns thriving.
“When I buy shirts from local suppliers and they have Newfoundland language on it and it’s representing our culture, I feel really proud to wear that,” said Oxford. “Really proud.”
Hiscock says the connection young people feel to their province today is not as strong as it was in the past. With so many connections to the rest of the world available at our fingertips, he says, that sense of pride is not as strong as it was when people knew little else but their home.
But it’s still there.
“It’s still a matter of pride, but it’s more of a part-time pride,” said Hiscock.
However, Oxford believes that’s just not true.
“Through clothing and through products that are made here locally, us millennials can relate to Newfoundland culture and pride a lot more,” said Oxford. “That’s how we show our pride, through our clothing and shopping locally.”
Oxford says purchasing anything another Newfoundlander put their blood, sweat and tears into is a cultural experience in itself.
“It’s almost like a little bit of their creativity and their spirit and vibe comes with you when you buy it,” said Oxford. “And I think that’s pretty powerful.”