Jan Kergoat

Occupation: Outreach Worker at the Daybreak Parent Child Center

Bio: Jan was born in Churchill, Manitoba. With a father in the Navy, she has lived all over the country, including a stint in Gander. At age 17 she and her family moved to Spain, where she lived under the notorious government of Francisco Franco. Unimpressed with his dictatorship, Jan moved to New Brunswick all by herself and finished high school there. Inspired by fond memories of Gander, she headed to MUN for a degree in Anthropology and Sociology. She married Stuart Pierson, who was one of MUN’s most distinguished History professors and had two kids with him. She has done field work in Labrador, assisting with the creation of aboriginal dictionaries, and now works at Daybreak.

What does being an Outreach Worker at Daybreak entail?
: Jan works with recently immigrated families in order to help them settle. “When I meet a family, the focal point of the whole thing is to get moms and their preschool kids out into the community and save them from being completely isolated.”

The seventies was a really interesting time in St. John’s, what with the expansion of MUN. What was it like for a mainlander to arrive here at that time?: “I arrived in 75, during all these revisionist ideas of Newfoundland, things were really just getting going with Figgy Duff and the like.” She says that there was a bit of tension between Newfoundlanders and mainlanders. However, she says, “my feelings about being a mainlander have evolved. At first it kind of hurt being asked where you belong all the time [but] I’ve realized that Newfoundlanders are not only asking that of mainlanders, but of each other. It’s important here that people know who you are and it’s just as important if you’re from Bonavista Bay than if you’re from the mainland. I see it as an invitation in now, rather than a way to distinguish you as an outsider.”

— Sarah Smellie