In Newfoundland: “Who knit you?” | Everywhere else: “Tell me about yourself”
Hello! My name is Jen Shears (you may know me as “@smidjen” on Instagram), and I’m from Newfoundland - a very unique place (culturally, linguistically, historically, and geographically), and to many in the hunting world it’s a popular place for moose, woodland caribou and black bear. It's a Canadian island in the North Atlantic that's only accessible by airplane or an 8-hour ferry, and for that reason we have a rich history of being self-sufficient and relying on the bounties of land and sea to sustain us. Even in present day, given extreme weather events and global pandemics, we are reminded that food security is a real issue here, and there is a big resurgence in homesteading, foraging, hunting and fishing. It's an exciting time on our sparsely populated 'Rock".
My husband (Kerry) and I are high school sweethearts, and we have an energetic and hilarious 6-year old daughter named Aspen. I’ve been surrounded by hunting my whole life, and some of my earliest memories are of shooting a .22 from the deck of my family’s cabin. Living sustainably off the land was always a foundation of my upbringing, and my mother, father, sister, aunts, uncles and even 89-year old grandmother still get their hunting licences. When my husband and I started dating at the age of 15, the outdoors, hunting, trapping and fishing were a major part of our relationship. It has brought us together, helps keep us together, and we’re instilling our love of all things outdoors in our daughter.
After high school when it was time to decide what I wanted to pursue in university, I was drawn to Environmental Biology and Ecology. I am a Newfoundland Mi’kmaq (First Nations) woman and the notion that we are protectors and guardians of our great lands, waters and creatures is ingrained in my spirit. Thanks to my education and passion for conservation, I spent about 15 years working in National Parks and National Historic Sites, protecting and presenting the incredible natural and cultural heritage of the country.
After Aspen was born I left my job to focus on raising her and running our businesses. Kerry is a taxidermist by trade (although he doesn’t do much taxidermy work anymore), we have some accommodations in our tourist town, we run a wildlife museum, and we have a business called NaturaL boutique, which sells fur items - predominantly harp seal products - such as boots, coats, mitts, hats and accessories. Kerry’s also a semi-pro poker player, and has achieved some great success over the years.
When we’re not busy at all of that, we like to hunt and travel (often at the same time). Recently we’ve been focusing on North American species (spending A LOT of time on sheep - there’s more to come on that), but we’ve hunted in South Africa and New Zealand in the past. We enjoy to travel, and as part of our travels we like to take part in the field to table cultural experiences of the areas.
So those are the details of "who knit me" - although I think much of who I am (and who my family is) is intimately linked to where we were "knit". On my blog I will post adventures, recipes, and anything else that might be of interest. If there's something you'd like to see, feel free to drop me a line! There are some exciting things coming down the pipe and I look forward to sharing them along the way.
Be safe out there!
Random Fact: my Instagram handle is “smidjen”. Sometimes people ask if it’s because my maiden name is “Smid”, but that’s not the case. It's because one of my great-grandmother’s most-used words was “smidgen”. If someone offered her a piece of cake or pie, she’d always ask for a smidgen. She passed away when I was about 12 years old, but that’s one thing I remember vividly about my sweet Nanny Hazel. To keep her with me I made a play on words with “her” word and my name to form “smidjen” ☺️
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