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Monday, February 27, 2006

Curling Gold and National Pride in Newfoundland and Labrador

On Friday February 24th history was made when the Newfoundland and Labrador men’s rink captured curling gold for Canada. Many in the Province and throughout the Country watched with pride as Brad Gushue and the team from the St. John’s curling club captured Canada’s first ever gold medal in curling and the first gold medal of any kind for Canada’s newest Province.

I watched that game with the sort of pride I always feel when a Canadian team reaches for the podium, but this time there was something more, this time my feelings ran just a little bit deeper. This time it was the local boys who had brought it home.

As proud as I was at that moment I didn’t realize that it was even possible to experience an even stronger feeling of pride, not until those initial feelings were eclipsed a few short moments after the game was over.

Let me start by saying that the good folks at CBC Sports deserve a huge round of applause for their treatment of the moments immediately following the Gushue victory. The act of empathy, understanding and diplomacy they displayed during that time touched me and many others very deeply.

Yes Newfoundland and Labrador is indeed a Canadian Province and yes the win was indeed a Canadian win but when CBC Sports took it upon themselves to capture the moment by airing a full and uninterrupted rendition of the Newfoundland Anthem, “The Ode to Newfoundland” they displayed a depth of character the likes of which is not often seen. They also displayed a deep understanding of the Province’s culture and sense of history that should not be forgotten.

For many people across Canada it was perhaps the first time they had heard or even realized that Newfoundland had an Anthem of its own. It was this that started me thinking about our existence in the Canadian Dominion and about how little so many people across this great Country really know about us. Often Newfoundland and Labrador is viewed as the “poor little” province down East or simply the place where “those Newfies” come from. "Kiss da Cod" and grab some "Screech" bye's.

All too often many Canadians are unaware of the rich history and the feelings of pride this place invokes in its people.

Many in the Province, including myself, often debate our treatment at the hands of Ottawa. We talk of having our resources taken to supply smelters and mills “up along”. As a lightly populated Province we sometimes view the current program of equalization based on population as a stumbling block to self sufficiency and growth. We feel that we’ve been let down by the mismanagement that has resulted in the collapse of our fishery, which was the backbone of this place for so long, and we wonder why this Province always seem to take one step forward before taking two backward.

Today, after listening intently as the Ode to Newfoundland being played and upon recognizing the understanding exhibited by a network that cared enough to air the song right across the Country, I have to wonder if we haven’t been fighting the symptoms rather than the problem itself?

If we really examine it closely what it all boils down to is respect. That’s really the only thing any of us really wants isn’t it? Don’t we all want to hold our heads up high and simply know that the rest of Canada truly understands that this place is different? Not that it’s any better or worse than the other Provinces, it’s not that at all, simply that it’s different. I wonder if all aspects of our Canadian experience might not improve it we could simply achieve such a level of understanding.

YesCanada, we do have our own anthem, two in fact, since the Labrador portion of the Province also has a very beautiful one of its own. The reason we have an anthem is because up until the early 1930’s we were an independent Nation on an equal footing with Canada. North America was made up of 4 Countries, Canada, America, Mexico and Newfoundland.

Newfoundland and Labrador has its own dialects, words and phrases that are used nowhere else in the world. We have our own forms of art, music, songs, poetry and lore. We have a history that includes Norse visitors to our shores 500 years before other Europeans even knew North America existed.

During the time of sail we saw settlers and traders arrive on our shores from places like Spain, Portugal, England and France. When the Europeans arrived on U.S. shores onboard the Mayflower and began to settle in the area of Plymouth Rock it was Newfoundland merchants that they traded with for much needed supplies and which helped ensure their survival. While New York was little more than a muddy village St. John’s was a bustling sea port involved in world wide trade.

During the dawn of air travel our little corner of the North Atlantic made Newfoundland the cross roads of the world for international travel. During World War II thousands of allied aircraft built in the U.S. and Canada destined for the war in Europe, left from this place and when the first wireless signal reached across the globe ushering in the age of radio, television and wireless internet that signal was sent from this place.

We are a people that lost 10% of its population during World War I, a level of committment unmatched by any other Nation and we are a place that has seen natural or man made disasters touch our shores and our lives nearly every single year of our existence.

The Province has a culture of closeness and caring that sees the people of Canada’s poorest Province consistently rate as the highest per capita donors to charitable causes in the Country. We are a place where people are accepted for what they are, not what we expect them to be and we have a culture where the pursuit of wealth has, and always will, take a back seat to the nurturing of our family and friends.

People have survived in this sea swept outpost almost continuously for over 500 years and this could not have been accomplished without strength of character, a will to survive and the ability to pick up your neighbour when he’s down, all the while knowing that he will undoubtedly have to do the same thing for you one day.

Life in this place has not always been an easy one. Icy winter storms often rip through the North Atlantic and gale force winds can send merciless waves crashing through villages along its shores. The people have survived here for centuries and it is through this survival that a pride of place has grown in our people. Although life is often much easier today this sense of pride still exists. It flows through the veins of every Newfoundlander and Labradorean, from generation to generation, Father to son and from Mother to daughter.

Yes we are Canadian, but Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are a people who also feel the same pride in their Province that most other people feel for their Country and I believe that is what we really want the rest of Canada to understand. I believe that if the people of Canada, and by extension the government of Canada itself, were to fully understand what makes this place so special to its people then everything else would begin to fall into place. Simply put, Newfoundland and Labrador is a unique and very special place with all of the trappings of a Nation but none of the power it needs to control its own destiny.

Former Federal MP and Tory Finance Minister John Crosby (Skipper John) once said, “You can always tell who the Newfoundlanders are in Heaven. They’re the ones who want to go home.”

24 comments:

MrChills said...

Great write up!

no longer proud said...

Nice little speech, however I do not share your sentiment.

I too am quite proud of our curling team's Olympic win, but I think what you interpreted as 'respect' from CBC's coverage was nothing more than obligatory lipservice. If I were to put money on it, there were many, many mainlanders wishing the Canadian men's curling team had been from another province. Ideally, the 'cream on top' would've been for Gushue and co. to have held up their medals and stated 'To all our mainland detractors... UP YOURS!' Of course, this is just my own personal opinion.

You also speak of the deep and intense pride NL'ians feel for this place... Yes, it does exist, however it can't be all that deep since so many of us are willing to sell ourselves and our fellow citizens short for short-term federal handouts that do nothing to secure our future. Or, to paraphrase the Premier,'settling for crumbs instead of the loaf...' Where is that pride when it comes to fighting for what really matters? The prosperity NL should have had decades ago will never come since (as I've stated before) most NL'ians are to greedy, short-sighted, and divided as a people to ever make it happen. We need to start respecting ourselves and each other on a provincial level before we can even think about the respect (or lack thereof) for Canada and vice-versa.

With all the negativity/hostilities between our province and the rest of the country I've been witness to, my first reaction to the Gushue team's win was "YES!!! F*#% YOU, CANADA!!!" Then I thought 'What will it matter in the long run?' Mainlanders will still look down their noses at us, NL'ians will still be greedy, short-sighted, and divided... Nothing will change.

I may be a Canadian/NL'ian on paper, but in my heart I feel like a man without a country.

WJM said...

We are a people that lost 20% of its population during World War

I challenge you to back this statement up.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Great piece Patriot.
I too was proud at hearing the NL'ian National Anthem played sang on Canadian national TV.
I must say though that at first I thought it was a joke because the poor singer was so rasp and off key I felt for sure it was a Joke.
No disrespect to the poor young fellow who sang it I'm sure he did the best job he could and much better han I ever could knowing all of the words and such it just wasn't the best version I've ever heard more like the worse. I was still pround and glad to hear it sang like I always am.

The other thing that struck me was the fact that they called it the NL NATIONAL anthem. Whether this was a slip I think not or a provocation to the rest of Canada I'm unsure but all in all they weren't wrong because I have more feeling and sentiment at hearing the Ode to NL than I do when I hear the Canadian Anthem in part because they have changed it so much it is almost unrecognizable now. It makes my Canadian heart bleed when not even our national athelets know the song well enough to be able to sing along let alone sing out loud and lead the way.

I must also agree with No Longer Proud I am so torn to be apart of a country that has treated my home land so badly :( It makes me question my Canadian Identity and pride in Canada.
I will always be proud of NL but Canada is only as good as the sum of its parts and the NL part isn't and hasn't been good for a long time sadly.

WJM said...

they have changed it so much it is almost unrecognizable now.

Who are "they", and how have "they" changed it?

Anonymous said...

Respect? Are you some JV basketball team now? You gonna "shock the world?"

God for such a proud people you whine more than any other canucks on the planet.

harry

Patriot said...

To WJM:

You asked me to back up the 20% and I can't. As you will see this morning the number is now 10% (you can check this with official records). I had intended to put the 10% number in the article but accidently hit the 2 instead of the 1.

I believe this is the first time I actually found you to be correct. Good catch WJM.

Anonymous said...

Harry,
What is so wrong with your life that you are so hateful? I get that you are against the seal hunt, but what have Newfoundlanders ever done to you? I find it appalling that you think we are all uneducated, alcoholic, wife-beating, child-molesters. Such people can be found anywhere (yes, even in your own town). And in case you're wondering (and even if you're not), I don't work in the fishing industry. In fact, nobody in my family does, or ever has, and no, we don't rely on government assistance.
But getting back to your most recent post, how are we "whining"? We are revelling in the achievements of some locals on the world stage, something people everywhere do. Why are you so hateful towards us for no apparent reason, other than the seal hunt?

Heather

crazyamerican said...

Steve here,

Congratulations on the best in the house and the world

WJM said...

You asked me to back up the 20% and I can't. As you will see this morning the number is now 10% (you can check this with official records). I had intended to put the 10% number in the article but accidently hit the 2 instead of the 1.

You said:

We are a people that lost 10% of its population during World War I

The population of Newfoundland and Labrador INCREASED between the censuses 1911 and 1921, from 242,619 to 263,033. There was no population loss AT ALL, let alone 10% (or more).

I believe this is the first time I actually found you to be correct.

People believe what they want to believe.

Patriot said...

Hey WJM, I'm not planning on getting into a nit picking contest with you over this one, but yes, you were initially correct that I had hit a 2 instead of a 1 on my keyboard.

I'm sure the population did grow at the time but I can only assume the number was based on fact. Likely the population at wars beginning minus losses in battle, merchant marine, etc.

If you have a problem with the 10% number you'll need to take it up with the fine folks who produce the "Lest we Forget" videos that air on CBC.

Since the number is quoted by veterans and the piece in question is supported by government funding I am willing to take it as being accurate enough for our purposes. If you know different I suggest you talk to them.

Anonymous said...

Talk about pride! You are really going to look good now!

McCartneys to observe seal pups before hunt
Updated Tue. Feb. 28 2006 1:45 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and his wife Heather are set to visit the Maritimes later this week to observe harp seal pups prior to Canada's annual seal hunt.

The Humane Society of the United States says the celebrity couple will highlight the work of animal protection groups that oppose the hunt.

The McCartneys, who are long-time animal rights activists, will take the trip on Thursday and Friday to "highlight the work of two animal protection groups to stop the Canadian seal hunt," the society said in a release.

"Heather and Paul's visit to the seal pups will shine a global media spotlight on this cruel and needless slaughter," said Rebecca Aldworth, the society's director of Canadian wildlife issues.

The hunt generally runs from mid-March through to mid-April, but the timing of this year's hunt is still uncertain.

Meanwhile, warm weather has left much of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is normally covered by thick ice, spotted with patches of thin ice.

As harp and hood seals generally give birth to their pups on ice floes, the thin ice could leave many of the young facing a fight for life.

Celebrities have long taken part in protesting against Canada's seal hunt, with the anti-sealing movement reaching its peak in 1977 when Brigitte Bardot cuddled up to baby seals on the ice floes.

In 2005, TV's MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson, added his voice to the movement.

The Canadian government has endorsed the hunt as a cultural right for many Maritimers -- announcing a management plan in 2003 with a quota of 975,000 seals over three years.

This outraged conservation groups and animal rights activists and protests resumed on the ice floes.

A year later, the federal government estimated there were 5.9 million harp seals on the East Coast, up from two million in the early 1970s. Ottawa estimated the value of the hunt was around $16 million.

In early February, 11 protesters convicted of getting too close to seal hunters in 2005 said they would spend 22 days on a hunger strike in jail rather than pay $1,000 fines.

3:26 PM

no longer proud said...

I hope Paul is kind enough to autograph the all the seals' Beatles CD's... I hear, "I Am the Walrus" was a big hit out on the ice flows. ;)


Someone needs to let 40-50 harp seals loose in McCartney's backyard. I'm sure Paul would just love having them lounging around his pool.

WJM said...

I'm sure the population did grow at the time but I can only assume the number was based on fact. Likely the population at wars beginning minus losses in battle, merchant marine, etc.

Which number? Your number? Or the actual censuses, taken by people who were actually alive in 1911 and 1921, of people who were actually alive in 1911 and 1921?

If you have a problem with the 10% number you'll need to take it up with the fine folks who produce the "Lest we Forget" videos that air on CBC.

I would be astonished if they said that NL lost 10% of its population in the war. That simply is not the case.

Since the number is quoted by veterans and the piece in question is supported by government funding I am willing to take it as being accurate enough for our purposes.

Since when did you start believing the government?

If you know different I suggest you talk to them.

The 1911 and 1921 censuses were also taken by the government.

Why can't you just admit that you were wrong? NL did NOT lose population in the war. It lost a lot of soldiers, yes. But population? Nope.

Patriot said...

To WJM, Nit pick all you like, I love your comment "Lost a lot of soldiers, yes but population? Nope"

I hate to break it to you but soldiers are a part of the population. You are simply looking at numbers, not people. That my friend is a very warped and cold attitude. Perhaps you should make the effort to acutally get a girlfriend, make some babies (if you have it in you) and tell me if something were to happen to them that you would not see it as a loss even if the population of your village rose by 100 people at that time.

As to the McCartney thing, I guess were in good hands there. Another star is going to tell us what to do. Bridgett Bardot, Mcgiver and now Sir Paul. Gee, the stars know everything. Unfortunately according to the article they don't know that Newfoundland is not in the Maritimes.

I wonder if we can get a sealer to go to LA or where ever McCartney lives now and explaint to him how to write or sing songs. Turn around is fair play and I never did like the Yellow Submarine song. Perhaps a sealer should tell Mr. M how to do his job.

Anonymous said...

You people act like you are delusional. Do you think making fun of a world star, whether you like his music or not, will help you save your barbaric slaughter?

You are in good hands? He is not there for you but the defenseless animals you slaughter for fur.

If I hear "it is part of our culture" one more time, I will pewk. Do you need a list of cultural practices in world history that were stopped because they were atrocities?


"The Maritime provinces, also the Canadian Maritimes or simply the Maritimes, is a region of eastern Canada on the Atlantic coast, consisting of the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The Maritimes are located northeast of New England, southeast of Quebec's Gaspé peninsula, and southwest of Newfoundland. (The "m" in maritime(s) is typically capitalized only in political references, not generally when describing the eastern coasts.) Note that British Columbia, on the Pacific Coast, is technically a maritime province as well (and contains the country's largest seaport), but is not included in the definition.

Newfoundland and Labrador is sometimes mistakenly identified as a Maritime province: it is properly part of Atlantic Canada (with the other three provinces) and, thus, referred to as an Atlantic province. Although it is located on the Atlantic coast, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence physically separates this province from the Maritimes. It also has a uniquely different history, as the colony (and later dominion) joined Canada eight decades after the three Maritime provinces. The four provinces of Atlantic Canada, with the two of Central Canada, are sometimes referred to as Eastern Canada.

There was talk of a Maritime Union of the three provinces to have a greater say in national affairs; however, the first discussions on the subject in 1864 at the Charlottetown Conference led to the larger Canadian Confederation instead."

WJM said...

To WJM, Nit pick all you like, I love your comment "Lost a lot of soldiers, yes but population? Nope"

I hate to break it to you but soldiers are a part of the population.


I hate to break it to you, but unless the number of deaths outweighs the number of births and immigrants, you haven't lost population.

You are simply looking at numbers, not people. That my friend is a very warped and cold attitude.

Population IS numbers.

You said that NL lost population in the war. It did not. It lost people, yes, a tragic number. But it did NOT lose population.

Perhaps you should make the effort to acutally get a girlfriend, make some babies (if you have it in you) and tell me if something were to happen to them that you would not see it as a loss even if the population of your village rose by 100 people at that time.

In which case it still cannot be said that the village has lost population.

Population change is (births+arrivals)-(deaths+departures), for a given geography over a given period of time. A million people can die in a pandemic in China, but if a million and one babies are born, China has not lost population. It has lost people, yes, and its population gain would have been much larger but for the pandemic. But there has been no population loss.

I don't care about the McCartney thing.

I think where you are confused, and it's embarrassing for you, is that roughly 10% of the male population of NL enlisted (or were conscripted) in WWI; a larger proportion yet again of able-bodied adults. Of these, a smaller proportion served, a smaller still proportion were casualties, and a smaller still proportion were deaths. But those deaths, as large a figure as it was, did not cause a population loss in NL. NL still gained population during the decade that included WWI.

Table Mountains said...

i was always led to believe that the biggest loss of WWI to newfoundland was future potential leaders and bussiness men who died in such battles as beaumont hamel.

Anonymous said...

long sigh..... it was a nice article about celebrating a complete province team both islanders and the northland.. too bad more effort got spent blotting.

Blotting = using web space to push discussions towards pet peeves or causes. The more you try to blot them up,.... the wider the stain, and finally you no longer can see what was the original picture.

Table Mountains said...

i will only agree with your comment about blotting if we can put all the blame on WJM. is that more blotting on my part? or can we all agree to do what i suggwst.show of hands please. : )

WJM said...

Forgive me for pointing out gross factual errors in the original post, and in the original poster's defence of his errors.

I guess you'd rather people wallow in their own lassitude with the facts, and let myths get perpetuated or started.

Table Mountains said...

your forgiven this time around.please stop makng it a habit jumping in when gross factual errors appear.some of us like errors.

BNB said...

That's a very good read Myles thanks. I hope it does give the sensible reader some insight into the province and it's place in Canada and our feelings towards both.

Ignoring the handful of nippers that always find their way in this tent this blog is a consistently good read.

Anonymous said...

I thought Team Canada won the curling medal.....not Team newfoundland.

Pride is one thing. Saying F**k off Canada is unpatriotic and low class.