In November 2010, Vera Blake moved from Detroit to northeastern New Brunswick. She didn't know where she would be living or working, but she had arrived and that was the most important part of the journey. She was 50 years old at the time.
Having traveled to the Miramichi region of New Brunswick since 1999 with a short-term mission team from Straffordville, Ontario, Vera had finally realized in early 2010 that it was time to act on her conviction to move to the region permanently. The focus of her short-term mission trips was working with the children of Esgenoôpetitj, a Mi'kmaw First Nation on the banks of Miramichi Bay on the Atlantic coast of Canada. Through her years of participating in nine-day trips in the summer, the children had "gotten under her skin."
In 2005, Vera started making Christmas visits because she could not stand missing her friends for an entire year. This was also when she realized the Lord's call to move to the region permanently. The children needed commitment, having seen other missionaries come and go.
“It was my intent to put my feet where my mouth was, so to speak; God willing walking the walk that I had talked!” Vera explained.
Vera had been working in IT at Wayne State University for 17 years. At some point in early 2010, she asked herself, "In 50 years, what would it matter if I had helped find some problem in a database? On the other hand, what would it matter if in those 50 years I help maybe even just one child to rise above his troubles in life and maybe help him in his education and other aspects of life?" This convinced her, most of all, that it was time to take action. In September 2010, she gave notice at work and paid her final rent on her apartment.
Vera left all that was familiar in her homelands of Detroit and Aylmer, Ontario on November 14, 2010 and headed east for the last time. She has found acceptance among her friends in the Native community, as well as among the Acadians and Scots/Irish and other groups of her new homeland.
“I have been blessed to work in the Esgenoôpetitj K-8 School as a supply (substitute) teacher since February 2012, sojourning even for a while in a seafood packing plant working with lobsters!” Vera shared. “Now THAT is Miramichi through-and-through and the Canadian Maritimes, for sure!”
Life is different in the Miramichi region. Vera lives in the rural northeast of the province which, like Detroit, has come upon hard times. A major industry, pulp milling, left the area and the employment state is in want. She is in a far different financial situation than when she was at the University; yet, she has not even thought about looking back. According to Vera, this is the best decision she has made in her whole life and the best way to be spending the early days of her 50s.
Vera has had great opportunities to help the children and has shared the message of healing and reconciliation in many ways already. She hopes to continue doing so for many years ahead. It took her 50 years, but she has found her roots and is happy serving others.