Crafting a Legacy

The Spanish flu in Okak, 1918

Artist: Sharon Buehler

“It is not often, even in retirement, when you have the opportunity to devote a whole week of days to learning new skills, creating something of special meaning and enjoying immensely the conversations and critiquing during the walk arounds and group discussions. Sustained with a daily ration of chocolate and homemade treats.”


As an epidemiologist, the story of Okak left a deep impression. The correspondence between Labrador and St. John’s; the National Film Board film, The Last Days of Okak, and especially, the heart-breaking narratives of those that lived through the epidemic published in Them Days were an essential part of my teaching; the devastation and consequent resettlement of an entire community far, far away from the thousands of deaths in Europe and North America impressed on me, and I hope my students, the impact of disease in small and remote pockets of the world.