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Nicole Keeping, Corner Brook

['High school grads across Newfoundland and Labrador are excited to step out into a new future. For some that future might lead them to new communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Others are developing their exit strategy.']
['High school grads across Newfoundland and Labrador are excited to step out into a new future. For some that future might lead them to new communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Others are developing their exit strategy.']

Nicole Keeping Corner Brook Corner Brook Regional High, Corner Brook

Nicole Keeping

Nicole Keeping of Corner Brook has always wanted to live in Halifax, where she has a lot of family and friends.

“Newfoundland is always going to be my favourite province, but outside of that, I’d say it would be Nova Scotia. It’s a lot like Newfoundland but it’s a bit bigger,” she says. “I don’t think I’d want to live in the States. Everybody has a dream of living abroad somewhere, but you never know. It’s not the most realistic thing to say I’m going to go live in Italy and sing opera for the rest of my life.”

The young musician, who plays in the jazz band at Corner Brook Regional High, will study music at King’s College in Halifax, which shares faculty with Dalhousie, in the fall. What she’ll do next, she’s not sure yet.

“Mostly, university’s giving me four years to figure it out. It would be nice to perform, but I’m not sure.”

Keeping has a lot of love for Corner Brook. She speaks highly of the local business scene, listing some that have created some buzz lately: Luigi’s pizza, Brewed, and the Screaming Gypsy tattoo parlour. And in a province with a rapidly aging population, she says it’s still a pretty young city.

Still, she thinks the poll’s results reflect her graduating class of 200 or more quite well. She’s not surprised to hear about two thirds want to leave.

And while she attributes a lot of that to people wanting to spread their wings — like herself — she acknowledges that the province’s economy is a factor.

“When I talk to a lot of adults, and when I talk to a lot of my friends in university, it’s just like this nervousness, and an uncertainty. Like nothing’s too, too bad now, but what’s going to come next, and how much worse is it going to get?” she says, adding that as a reader, the book tax felt like a personal attack.

Generation Exit: Should they stay or should they go

She says layoffs have been so common recently that they’ve almost lost their sting.

“You hear more about cuts than you hear about anything new coming in. We were supposed to get a hospital a long time ago, and it’s just a really nice golf course is kind of the joke in the city, because they got it all ready and cut all the trees and made it nice and flat and it’s just been like that for six years now,” she says.

All the same, she hates to hear people complain about Corner Brook or about Newfoundland in general. She says it’s the prettiest spot in the country, and there’s nothing about it that would make her want to leave other than wanting to spread her wings.

When she leaves, she says, she’ll miss the view from her house, which is close to the lookout.

“I think I’d miss the people. I have such great teachers, like Wendy Woodland, my voice teacher. I’d miss her. And Darin White, my band teacher. I’d miss my parents and my family. I grew up here. It’s a big part of who I am.”

Owen Martin, St. John's

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