Getting to know Nancy Turniawan




SaltWire Network


Q. What is your name? A. Nancy Turniawan Q. Where were you born? A. Antigonish. Q. Where do you live today? A. I like to say that I live in Piktuk, Mi’kma’ki, Harbour Centre, Antigonish County, to acknowledge and respect the Mi’kmaq Treaty of Friendship of 1752. When I first came to settle in Antigonish County, 44 years ago, I was unaware of their Aboriginal rights. Q. What’s your favourite place in the world? A. Hawaii. My mother was a Chinese American from Hawaii. I went to live there as a young adult and got to meet my relatives. As an older person now, I love to return there to visit and get a break from winter. Q. Who do you follow on social media? A. My children and their cousins, who share their lives through photographs and chats. Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you? A. I am Andy Braid’s daughter. Because my married name is Indonesian, it’s a surprise to connect me with a Scottish father, who played the bagpipes, and who came here from China, after WWII, to be part of The Antigonish Cooperative Movement. Q. What’s been your favourite year and why? A. The years my three children were born. Q. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? A. I have had to recover from depression four times. I have had amazing support from my family and been cared for with many therapies, the most recent being in the company of horses. Q. Can you describe one experience that changed your life? A. Creating the pebble mural outside my home, which took me 10 summers to complete. The experience of collecting and setting in pebble by pebble made me notice that I experienced life with more joy. It was lifechanging. I joined Arts Health Antigonish afterwards to help support bringing more creativity into people’s lives, especially those in hospital, long-term care facilities and schools, as well as the general public. Art therapy is critical to everyone’s health. Q. What’s your greatest indulgence? A. Reading. The Antigonish Library is a haven for me. Q. What is your favourite movie or book? A. The one that I am presently reading. The Sweetness of Tears. Q. How do you like to relax? A. Making puzzles. Q. What are you reading or watching right now? A. This Beautiful Fantastic, a British movie. Q. What is your greatest fear? A. Lightning. Our house was hit by it 20 years ago. Q. How would you describe your personal fashion statement? A. Loose and comfortable second-hand clothes. Q. What is your most treasured possession? A. Family photographs. Q. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for? A. From my dad, humour. He was a great storyteller. We were never sure what was a true story. From my mother, caring for extended family, and from both of them, building community, and seeing all cultures and religions as one big family. We lived in four countries when I was growing up – India, U.S.A., Jordan, and Italy. Q. What three people would join you for your dream dinner party? A. Three four-year-olds, all dressed up. And fancy food, and with dancing afterwards. Q. What is your best quality, and what is your worst quality? A. Cheerfulness and kindness. Obsession with collecting pebbles! Q. What’s your biggest regret? A. That my mother died young, so she didn’t get to see her grandchildren.