Sable Island Scholarship 2014

In keeping with our mission to promote Sable Island through education, the Friends of Sable Island Society was pleased to again offer a $1,000 scholarship to a NS student. This year’s scholarship was awarded in memory of Crystal Hennigar who was a lifetime member of Friends of Sable Island and a strong supporter of Sable Island.

Scholarship Award

Congratulations to Elizabeth Schofield of Hants East Rural High School for the poem ‘This is not a Place for Tame Things’.  The poem along with Elizabeth’s reflective statement are below and show inspired creativity while providing some education on Sable Island. Thank you to everyone who made a submission.  We hope you learned something new and amazing about Sable Island.

 This is not a Place for Tame Things

By Elizabeth Schofield

This is not a place for tame things

Not the sand – the waves – the land – the sky

Not the dunes where fated shipwrecks lie

Pieces of history fated to die. Ten thousand men upon the shore

Sleeping on the coast forever more

A slender slip of sand and sea swallowed in fog and mystery

Lighthouses blink in warning eyes over buried ships

Capsized. Resting in marram grass overgrown

Green ocean tossing in salt winds blown

Empty hulls of ruin shown through hungry sandbars

Just whitewashed bone.

This is not a place for tame things

A play for Mr. Shakespeare, sailors would say

Tempests and tempests and seafoam and spray

Fair damsels distressed into early graves

The Graveyard of the Atlantic, headstones of sand

For Ruby, Amelia, Cora May, and Ann

For Abigail and Georgia, Margaret and Stella

Sadie and Elizabeth and sweet Isabella

Smudges on maps to mark their ends

Names of ghosts haunting the island together as friends

This is not a place for tame things

L’île de Sable

That’s what the French called it

The Island of Sand

C’est une place de mort. C’est une place belle

The type of place that poets write about and travelers tell

Of, where spirits of sailors gallop with horses

(In pursuit of escape? Or for the joy of flying?)

Above the ocean where their bodies are lying.

Ce n’est pas une place pour choses que sont apprivoisés

Colonial efforts to save perished vessel crews

A lifesaving establishment to bring the stranded through

This slender slip of sand and sea, a museum of naval history

Four hundred wrecks in as many years (give or take)

Thousands left to slumber, the ocean always awake

For a place so infamous for its beauty and death

It remains for most a story at best

A mythical place off the Atlantic shore

Where sailors sleep forever more

This is not a place for tame things

Reflective Statement
Like most Nova Scotian students, the stories of Sable Island, its shipwrecks, and its wildlife have been a part of my upbringing. As a wide-eyed child I frequented the Wildlife Park in Shubenacadie to glimpse the Sable Island ponies, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to stare at statistics and drawings of ships crashed on dunes of sand. The island is something real, but never seen except in photographs, making it mythical and elusive, a place where the landscape evicts humans and hides away species that live nowhere else. Nova Scotia is famous for Sable Island, but it is nothing we ever experience for ourselves. I’m incredibly intrigued by this beautiful, lonely place, a sliver of biological haven off the coast.

I decided to write a poem for this scholarship application because I feel Sable Island is such a poetic place: it has Shakespearean tragedy and romance and wild beauty. Living in Atlantic Canada I have seen no shortage of beaches, but looking at pictures of wildlife nesting and grazing on marram grass, Sable has always seemed to me a place for fairy tales. It is not a place for tame things. It is a place of ghosts. I wanted to explore all these fantastical aspects of the island in the poem, the spirits and the wild beauty and the failed attempts of humans to survive on it. I applied for this scholarship not only to aid in funding my education, but to dip my artist’s brush into the vast inkwell of history, science, and breathtaking splendour that Sable Island offers.

Honourable Mention

The 2014 Scholarship Committee would like to give honourable mention to Graham Rogers for his submission “The Mummie of Sable Island”

Reflective Statement

The Mystical Qualities of Sable Island

My introduction to Sable Island occurred when I was an elementary school student. As I listened to the teacher’s description of this geographic location, all I could envision was a mystical place right out of a novel or movie. My imagination went wild with the thoughts of a place basically uninhabited by humans, yet so close to home. The mystery surrounding the many shipwrecks that had occurred close to the island, along with it being a place that had a large population of wild horses and unique plants, fish and animals was astonishing to me.

As I near the completion of my high school education, I am once again drawn to the Sable Island Scholarship site. I think it is important for young Nova Scotians to promote learning and preservation of this iconic landmark. It deserves to be increasingly recognized for its beauty and purity.

I chose to create a piece of artwork that blends Sable Island’s connection to the sea. It is a representation of the mummichog fish, which is a species of fish that thrive within the freshwater ponds on Sable Island. Mummichog fish are also known as mummies and my version of a mummie was created out of a piece of Nova Scotia driftwood. My thought is to blend the connection between the past, that of shipwrecks within the seas off of Sable Island to the present, which include species of fish and wildlife that continue to thrive on Sable Island.