Jamaican LPN embraces Baie Verte and all it has to offer

Published on February 9, 2017

Kerrian Johnson relishes the food during her boil ups during her snowshoeing and snowmobiling excursions.

©Submitted photo

BAIE VERTE, N.L. - Kerrian Johnson has turned in her “ya mans” for “yes b’ys,” and that is just fine with her.

The licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre came to town in October 2015 to make a pair of dreams come true. The first was to work in the health care profession. The second was to come to Canada.

Johnson, who is from Ocho Rios, completed the Canadian LPN nursing program in Jamaica at the Centre for Nursing Studies in 2009.

“I love nursing,” she said, taking a break from a snowshoeing expedition for an interview. “It is my passion to help people.”

Johnson says she was always drawn to Canada.

“They are family oriented and friendly, and I really admire that about Canadians,” she said.

Snowshoeing is now one of the favourite past times for Kerrian Johnson, a licensed practical nurse from Jamaica who lives in Baie Verte.
Submitted photo

In 2014, she answered a call for LPNs by Central Health, was interviewed, and secured a position in Baie Verte.

She says she departed Jamaica when it was about 27C and arrived in Newfoundland to -8C.

“I was froze to death,” she said. “I wasn’t dressed for anything like that. I knew it would be cold, but I had no idea it was going to be that cold.”

Now in her second Newfoundland winter, she has adapted to the climate. She still finds it cold, but now has her “Optimus Prime” snowmobile suit to keep her warm.

Taking the “if you can’t beat it, join it” mentality, Johnson also embraced winter and its activities to the fullest. Snowshoeing has become a passion, she welcomes the opportunity to get behind the bars of a snowmobile, and she loves a good ol’ traditional boil up.

“Newfoundlanders love to cook and Jamaicans love to eat, so we complement each other,” she said.

Johnson is fitting right in with the Baie Verte community, humour and all. She felt welcomed upon arrival, and now accepted as one of the locals. Her perceptions of Canadians have been accurate, in her opinion, but admits she may have underestimated just how much so when it comes to Newfoundlanders.

“Oh my lord, this is the best place anybody could be,” she said. “…I absolutely love it. I feel at home. Everybody loves me. Everybody welcomed me. Everybody tries to make sure that I am Ok.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling, a joyous feeling. I feel like I am home.”

Kerrian Johnson quickly learned a campfire in the woods is yet another way to keep warm during the winters.
Submitted photo

There was a language barrier to overcome during her early days — which took some getting used to, both in terms of understanding and being understood. She said there are some dialect similarities with her home country, so that also helped.

As much as family means to her, it has been difficult to be away from her husband Orane and her nearly four-year-old son Nathan. They also came to Baie Verte, but have since returned to Jamaica. Orane, a pastor, was unable to secure full-time employment. They are expected to return soon.

When the rest of her family is here next winter, they will see a different woman. She is anxious to introduce them to the winter activities she has fallen in love with.

Johnson says she never thought she would enjoy the winter season, but decided it was something she needed to at least try.

“I thought why would people do these things,” she said. “But, when you get out and experience it, it is wonderful. It is fun and filling, and you get fresh air. It is lovely.”

She has not looked back since.

Just over a year since her arrival, she has certainly warmed up to the area and its people. She says there is no place, other than Jamaica, she would rather be.