St. John's is something of a Mecca for facial hair. Far beyond the annual sprouting of moustaches for Movember, which raises funds for men's health issues, we now have a Newfoundland and Labrador Beard & Moustache Club. This is a social club that is interested in promoting a positive image for facial hair but you don't need a beard to be a member.
Hasan Hai had been a member of the Saskatchewan branch of the club and when he moved back home to Newfoundland our local club sprang up in January 2017–this is neither your usual stuffy men's club nor a rowdy fraternity. Its members have an endearing way of laughing at themselves and a willingness to help out with charitable projects. What intrigued me about the organization was its goal of challenging stereotypes and particularly what "men are supposed to look like". They recognize diversity and the NL Beard & Moustache Club's first project is evidence of that belief.
Just in time for Christmas (and I know I am putting at least one in the mail) is the 2018 Merb'ys Calendar. In their own words, this is what they set out to achieve with the calendar:
•First, raise money and bring awareness to a local non-profit organization Spirit Horse.
•Second, challenging out-dated views of what masculinity and beauty look like by featuring a diverse group of bearded humans.
•Third, an opportunity to toss our shirts, put on a tail, and laugh harder than we've ever laughed before.
Each month of the calendar is illustrated by full-colour photographs of the Merb'ys–in all their body type splendour– posing at recognizable Newfoundland locations. At the ocean side on cliffs and beaches, tossing snow balls at the Spirit Horse property, at the Quidi Vidi Plantation, and even being dangled upside from a dock like some prize catch. The calendar dates recognize Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian celebrations as well as those dates more associated with social justice than religion, like International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
Spirit Horse NL is a therapeutic service that aims to enhance the mental health and life skills of youth, adults, families and groups through interaction with horses. This non-profit group pairs peers with clients, who have shared many of the same life challenges. Spirit Horse NL programs are facilitated by Erin Gallant – a graduate of Therapeutic Recreation, an Equestrian Canada Coach Specialist, a Trained Mental Health Peer Supporter and a Level 3 Healing Touch Energy Work student.