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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

From Our Past to Our Future

Today I have one of those rare opportunities to offer a heart felt round of applause and big a pat on the back to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Not that I haven’t been pleased with some moves made by the current government, but I believe one of their latest deserves special mention.

It isn’t often that I do something like this but it’s not unheard of either. My belief is that we all have a responsibility to hold our elected leaders accountable for what they do be it good or bad. If we as a people don’t do it then who will? I live by a simple code when it comes to politicians. If they fall down on the job, kick some dirt in their eyes, but if they excel, don’t be afraid to cheer them on to even further heights.

The reason for my cheering today is because the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has included a small line item in their most recent budget document. It went largely unnoticed, but deserves to be recognized. The item in question provides funding for a Newfoundland and Labrador history course to be offered in high schools across the Province.

This course, in my opinion, is long overdue. Our schools have always taught world history and Canadian history. Both of which are important without a doubt, but it is just as important that our children understand who they are, where they come from and the role we’ve played in world events. Our Province has a historical record that rivals any other on the continent and it deserves to be shared with our children.

My only hope is that the planned course will actually offer our future business and political leaders the information it should. I remember a history course that was offered to me when I was in elementary school, which wasn’t yesterday. The book used at the time consisted of about 70 pages and provided a brief window into the Province’s discovery by the Vikings. It also offered a sanitized revisionist examination of the ill fated Beothuk people. Beyond those two items, there was little else. I remember thinking, even at that tender age, that I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand how I as a Newfoundlander had arrived at my own personal moment in time. Unfortunately that knowledge was not available in our educational system at the time.

Many years have passed since my first introduction to our collective past. Now government has decided that our Province’s history should not only be provided in elementary or junior high, but that it should be taught to our high schools to those on the cusp of entering the "real" world. I heartily congratulate our politicians for taking this step. I also caution the bureaucrats who will ultimately determine the curriculum, not to waste this opportunity. Don’t waste the chance to change our collective future by casting a strong light on our past.

We have before us the opportunity to provide our youth with an understanding of an extremely rich tapestry of events. To give them knowledge that can instill a sense of pride, the likes of which they have never known. A chance to give our children a sense of place and a gift of understanding for what it truly means to be a Newfoundlander or Labradorean.

If properly delivered, this course could very well provide the catalyst necessary to change our collective future. It has the potential to give our youth the grounding and encouragement necessary so they will wish to continue living, working and using their entrepreneurial skills right here at home, rather than leaving for some far away corner of the world.

The only way we can hope to take advantage of the opportunity before us is to ensure that this course provides much more than the type of sanitized, politicized and cursory look at our past that was delivered in my youth. Like that course, this new one should provide a window into our discovery and the early inhabitants of this land, but it should do so in an honest and open way, not by glossing over the harsh truths.

The course should outline for our youth the global presence we’ve had by teaching them about our role in opening up this continent. It should tell them of our contributions during many wars and it should speak of the heorics of people like Tommy Rickets or Blue Putees and of our crucial role during World War II. The course should also identify for students the multitude of pivotal moments around the world that have had a direct connection to this place.

An understanding or our place in the world is important, but just as important is an understanding of major local events. Events that have helped shape our society, our culture and our very psyche. The list is exhaustive but there are a few that quickly spring to mind. Events such as the great sealing disaster, the sinking of the Ocean Ranger, the Churchill Falls agreement, the big loggers strike, the re-settlement program and of course our very entry into Confederation itself. Stories that need to be told with good and bad points fully presented, for all to see and clearly understand.

As I’ve said in the past, my commentaries are often used to throw verbal “bricks” at our federal and provincial politicians. More often than not they deserve them. Today however I offer a rare congratulatory “bouquet” to the Williams government. I only hope that this new initiative doesn’t lead to a wasted opportunity that will end with my taking back the “bouquet” and throwing the proverbial “brick” instead.

Remember, the best way to ensure our future is to understand our past.


BNB said...

I recall an experimental course called "Newfoundland Culture" that seemed to last all of one or two years. It was more of a folklore course and didn't offer much history. I very much support the government in this initiative.

We've only been the adopted child of Canada for 57 years. We are far more than that.

no longer proud said...

We've only been the adopted child of Canada for 57 years. We are far more than that.

Yeah... According to the poster fedupbc, we're an adopted crack baby. LOL!

With attutudes like that coming from our 'fellow countrymen', it boggles my mind why we remain part of this country. NL has everything it needs to be successfully independent, but most are too damned blind to see it...

WJM said...

NL has everything it needs to be successfully independent

What would those things be? Please itemize.

no longer proud said...

I'll correct myself. We don't have everything we need to be successfully independent... In order to be successfully independent NL needs a population that believes in itself and is willing to work together to meet that goal. Instead, we have too many like wjm here that think we have to suck Ottawa's dick for everything and try to sow seeds of discord amongst NL'ians in order to prevent cutting the umbilical cord.

Too many gutless wonders in this place. Why I continue to give a damn about NL, I'll never know...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's what my kids need to get into University....more info about Newfoundland. I think CANADIAN history would suffice.

Don't worry, we'll be outta here next month :)

Anonymous said...


The Seven Deadly Sins of the Sealers – The Seven Heavenly Virtues of Seal Defenders

Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Now is it bihovely thyng to telle whiche been the sevene deedly synnes, this is to seyn, chiefaynes of synnes. Alle they renne in o lees, but in diverse manneres. Now been they cleped chieftaynes, for as muche as they been chief and spryng of alle othere synnes.
– Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

Today is the eve of the great slaughter of the innocent.

Tomorrow is April 12th when the rapacious rifles of the Newfoundland sealers begin violently cracking and rumbling and disturbing the peace and serenity of the harp seal nurseries. Tomorrow Cocytus, the ninth circle of hell, will manifest itself upon the heaving ice floes off the grayish cold coast of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador.

From out of the ice-dusted mists will emerge the foreboding spectre of dark ships and men dressed in deathly black.

Tomorrow over two hundred thousand young and innocent seal pups will begin to die in horrific agonizing pain as lethal bullets tear with murderous savage fury through their small and fragile bodies, shredding organs and arteries, spewing their hot innocent blood into the frigid Labrador Sea and splattering it upon the pristine ice. Primitively vicious clubs will shatter soft tiny skulls as sealers dressed in black and besmeared with slimy blood, march arrogantly across the ice, kicking pups in the face, tearing the living skin off of small throbbing convulsing bodies, and transforming the home of the ice lovers from Greenland into a dark, chaotic cesspool of evil.

This is a vicious and tedious battle – this epic struggle to end the horrific slaughter of seal pups in Eastern Canada. It is a classic struggle between evil and good. A person does not need to be religious to know that defending life from death is innately good, and inflicting death and abject cruelty on such a massive scale, and especially to defenseless young sentient beings, is the very definition of evil.

So, we must remember that it does not matter how difficult it is, it does not matter how long it takes, what is important is seal defenders must never surrender to the insidious dark forces of incarnate and baneful cruelty and malignant ecological destruction.

These shameless men who inflict such gross destruction upon the moving ice and the deceitful politicians and gullible people who blindly support them are biblically evil. They are homo arrogantus mimicking their own perception of God as they smash in skulls, slit open young bellies, and violently penetrate creatures that have done them no harm.

These are men who kill not for food, not for survival, but for contemptuous vanity. They strip away life to artificially adorn human bodies with pelts that are far more beautiful in death than the living skin of the creatures wearing them.

They crusade against the laws of nature as they harness cold and sterile technology to destroy life efficiently, thoughtlessly, insensitively, and ignorantly.

These are men, who in their greed have overfished the seas, looting the waters of life as they plunder the fishes from the deep to convert into lucre. Now they seek vengeance upon their chosen scapegoat – the innocent baby seals.

Their stubborn pride lies like a dark veil upon their eyes, preventing them from seeing the iniquitous consequences of their greed, their rage, and their lust for the blood of the innocent.

These are men, who in their anger, preach a harsh hatred of the compassionate, and belittle the kindness of those who care for the lives of the seals.

Like ravenous demons conscripted by Lucifer, these heartless men, these seal killers, are never satisfied as they ravage the living bosom of the sea of life in a gluttonous frenzy of profiteering. They act like all life belongs to them, free for the taking, at their will. Armoured by their anthropocentric philosophy of human domination, all killing is sanctioned and all morality is simply bartered away for denial. They are the takers and they give nothing back.

Last year, I saw them pass us by, a convoy of wicked ignorance, as men stood on the blood and gore besmeared decks of boats being escorted through the ice by the powerful scarlet ships of the Canadian government. Like spoiled children, they hungrily followed the ice-breaker as it led them to new nurseries to destroy more helpless seal babies to vent their depraved savageness upon.

As they passed, they hooted like lunatics and made obscene gestures they thought would upset us. We were unpleasantly surprised when one sealer dropped his blood-stained pants and vented his lust at the sight of our female crew. It was one of the most truly bizarre sights that I had ever witnessed, a full-grown man, his pants around his ankles, standing in gore, pulling and jerking his penis as he wagged his tongue and drooled at the young women on our deck. And rather than look the fool to his comrades they applauded his fetish like it was normal behaviour. Perhaps in the outports of Newfoundland it is.

There was a time only a few short years ago when the clergy would see the sealing ships off with prayers that their decks would run red with blood. It always struck me as odd that men of the cloth would send killers off to destroy “kotik,” the Inuit word for seal that Labradorean missionary Sir Wilfred Grenfell once coined for the whitecoated pups in a linguistic effort to convey the meaning of the “Lamb of God” to a people who had never seen sheep.

It is odder still that a large powerful Canadian Coast Guard ice-breaker bearing the name of Sir Wilfred Grenfell now escorts the vile butchers through the floes to silence the lambs of the ice, and as it does, the ship itself crushes seal pups beneath its keel as Grenfell’s name reflects the ensanguined death throes of screaming infants ground to a bloody pulp in the ice below.

Malevolence is given free rein when harnessed to power and with the absolution granted by the Canadian Parliament, the sealers have turned the floes into killing grounds where none may bear witness to the horrors sanctified by law without permission. The law has legitimized shame and hoisted the flags of pride over the domain of terror inflicted on the ice.

Pride, the venal sin from which all other sins arise, is the driving malignant force behind the massive massacre of the innocents. The sealers vainly stride across the ice like it is their realm of righteousness, where the slaughter has become ritualistic and the urge to kill pulses through their veins like some cancerous demonic perversion that robs them of mercy, respect, and love.

The slaughter of the seals is an annual baptism of blood, where the killers, according to Magdalen Island sealer Pol Chantraine, often drink the living blood from the heart of their first victim and paint their faces with the hot, salty, virgin liquid of life, mumbling semi-paganistic chants of becoming one with the ice as blood drips down and congeals like grease onto their silver and gold crucifixes.

It is this perversion that they proudly indulge and defend.

And it is this excessive Pride that drives the Gluttony that has already destroyed the cod. It is this unyielding Pride that compels them to take more than they need to feed their insatiable Greed. It is this Pride that drives their sadistic Lust to kill. It is this Pride that prevents them from evolving, from changing, from adapting to civilized standards and norms because Pride fosters a laziness of spirit and a Slothful behaviour that starves them of morality. It is this Pride that provokes their anger towards those who defend life, promote kindness and seek alternatives to willful slaughter.

Deviant demons of death slandering angels of life and compassion.

Government control is cheaply given because it can be had by the devious by giving nothing and exploiting the sin of Pride towards achieving political deviltry. Men of wealth like John Crosbie, Danny Williams, and Bill Barry can garner votes and profits from the gullibility of those who use and abuse them for their own self-serving ends.

Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi, one of the most influential paragons of kindness in the history of social and political activism, once wrote that you cannot have commerce without morality.

I was led to oppose the slaughter of seals as a young boy in New Brunswick by none other that Albert Swietzer, the honourary president of the Kindness Club, an organization established by Aida Flemming, the wife of the former Conservative Premier of New Brunswick, Sir Hugh John Flemming.

It was there that I learned to live in accordance with what some refer to as the heavenly virtues, i.e. the four Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice with the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

It is these virtues that drive the movement to defend the seals and it is these virtues that the sealers and their supporters attack us for.

We have faith and we have hope that the killing of the seals can be abolished and it is the charity of those who care for the seals that will make this possible. We have the courage to go to the ice, to take to the airwaves and to debate and confront the killers of baby seals. Our approach is prudent, temperate, and motivated by a desire to achieve justice for the seals.

Our temperance is apparent in the restraint we must exercise to not answer violence with violence, and thus we have had to take the blows, endure the beatings, and suffer incarceration without reprisal or justice.

We who defend the seals are not like those who destroy them life. We practice non-violence and yet they use the very fact of refusal to eat meat and our own kindness as barbs to goad and humiliate us as if they think to shame us with our own virtues.

These narcistic necrovores ridicule veganism as they gnaw and devour long-dead decaying corpses of sentient creatures, consuming carrion like base scavengers as they proudly compare their butchery to the slaughter of the lambs and the battering of chickens.

Those who defend the seals, like those who defend other species, who defend habitats, who defend children, and who champion the innocent, the meek, and the peaceful are gentle warriors representing the virtue of goodness over the foul and festering vice of evil.

Seal defenders have the moral high ground because we do not inflict or advocate violence. We do not contribute to suffering and death, and we contribute our bodies, our resources, and our time to making this a better world for all of life.

This planet does not belong to those who destroy it. They are the greedy who steal from their children. The planet belongs to those who live, respect and honour, protect and defend life.
This struggle really is between good and evil. One look upon the ice floes of Eastern Canada where the blood lies in steaming pools of gore upon the bluish white mantle of the ice, where the screams of the innocent fill the air as heavy booted thugs with blackened hearts, armed with spiked clubs transform the innocence of the world of newly born creatures into a perdition of unimaginable suffering as they slaughter heaven’s lamb’s, Grenfell’s kotik’s, in an insane orgy of murderous mutilation and remorseless cruelty.

Over the next week, the pathetic little corpses whose large eyes so recently reflected the wonder of the living world will once again litter vast expanses of ice, and spirals of blood will radiate out from the killing boats. The clean virgin air will stink of diesel fumes, stale beer, tobacco, and human sweat. As these foul smells drift across and defile the ice, it will send a ripple of fear across the face of the floes, touching each and every seal with the message that the pristine and pure world of ice, the nursery floes of the harp seals is being invaded once again by a monstrous foe. Crusaders doused in the stench of viciousness will begin once again, their annual rampage of self-indulgence, caring nothing for their victims, and dismissing those who dare to question their deceitful and cruel displays of provincial pride.
The seal defenders have one objective – to stop the killing, to silence the thud of the clubs and the crack of the rifles – to defend innocence and to protect life.

This is really a struggle between good and evil – between those who would take life and those who would defend it.

For the sake of all those sentient beings who will be born upon this Earth for years to come, we must prevail. We can prevail and we will prevail.

no longer proud said...

Canadian history, huh? I studied Canadian history in highschool and all it served to do was praise the 'accomlishments' of Ontario and Quebec. The other provinces/territories barely got a mention. Besides, unless the history course is going to tell the truth (that Ottawa has continuously screwed the entire country for the benefit of Ont./Que.) then it won't be a subject worth studying.

And you're out of here next month, huh? Sorry to hear your obvious brain tumour is so far advanced.

F*ck, I hate this country...

no longer proud said...

Crap! I misspelled 'accomplishments'...

Damn typos.

MrChills said...

Was that post about the Seven Deadly Sins real?

That was the funniest while at the same time most pathetic thing I have ever read.

HarbourPilot said...

Myles, to quote you:

"The item in question provides funding for a Newfoundland and Labrador history course to be offered in high schools across the Province."

I agree congratulations to the prov. government are in order ... but the course should not be 'offered' it should be REQUIRED. (It remains to be seen whether the particular curriculum is any good, or ends up being composed by 'academics' with an agenda, who will portray Newfoundland history from the p.o.v. of leftists.)

Of course since the proper teaching of History as a separate, formal academic subject was downgraded ("dumbed-down") to the current hodge-podge 'Social Studies,' our population has got progressively dumber.

This was no accident, my friend. 'Education' is no longer for the benefit of the individual, and society, ... it has become a tool of government social engineering, which is precisely why History was wiped out as a separate subject.

I did an Honours BA degree and grad studies in History, and taught in Newfoundland and U.S. high schools. The state of the subject is pathetic ... apart entirely from the fact that the discipline has been subsumed into the meaningless 'Social Studies' trash-heap.

The disastrous effect of this goes far beyond our poor little Newfoundland experience. Canada-wide -- in fact, throughout the Western 'democracies,' there has been a deliberate and concerted attempt by academic elites and social engineers to separate us from our roots, so that when it comes time to choose our leaders, we have no ponts of reference by which to assess them.

If one were to throw up to the average voter the Labouchere manifesto (in the Newfoundland context), one wouldn't be surprised to find the voter had no idea what you were talking about.

Throw up the Magna Carta, in the broader context (Canada-USA as a whole), and we should be not merely surprised, but very WORRIED that most people have never heard of it.

How can a free people KEEP their freedom when their masters, who provide them FREE (and compulsory) education, disdain to ever mention such things?

I have high hopes for a History of Newfoundland course, and would expect that it will be over-subscribed, even as an elective, ... but the art and science and vocation of teaching History -- at the primary, elementary and secondary level -- has been dead for many years, so perhaps I'm a fool to be hopeful.

WJM said...

In order to be successfully independent NL needs a population that believes in itself and is willing to work together to meet that goal. Instead, we have too many like wjm here that think we have to suck Ottawa's dick for everything and try to sow seeds of discord amongst NL'ians in order to prevent cutting the umbilical cord.

More brave words from an anonymous Newfoundland nationalist.

Too many gutless wonders in this place.

Starting with you, whoever you are, hiding behind a pseudonym.

WJM said...

I have high hopes for a History of Newfoundland course

Then I hope it isn't subsidized by the provincial public education system.

The history of the entire province, and the entire country, should be taught. Not just the history of Newfoundland, and certainly not a jingoistic propogandic ahistorical "history" that would make even the SSJB cringe.

no longer proud said...

Starting with you, whoever you are, hiding behind a pseudonym.

Like 'wjm' reveals so much about you...

WJM said...

A heck of a lot more than a linkless "no longer proud" does about you, you chicken.

no longer proud said...

Oooh! The pussy show his claws...

no longer proud said...

Now that I've had all night to sleep on the subject, I realize that this childish exchange between wjm and myself is a perfect example of why NL cannot succeed as either an independent entity OR a province of Canada... A population that does not share a common goal and is unwilling to comprimise (to the point where we fight amongst ourselves) will not be able to function in any capacity, therefore NL is screwed. The noble attempts to stabilize and improve NL's economy by the current government are merely delaying the inevitable death that awaits us.

So... When's the next boat to England/Australia/wherethehellever leaving???

No Longer Proud
aka: Joe Champion, Bishop's Falls
(How's that for not 'hiding'??? ;-) )

***I just realized I made a typo in my previous post... 'show' should be 'shows'... I hate when I do that.

Anonymous said...

If you could see yourselves in the true light, you would know that you have no future in the dreadful paths you follow. The sooner global warming covers the rock with sea water the sooner we can spend our hard earned money on something besides a helpless cause. Hopeful is not in the vocabulary when mentioned in the same sentence with Newfoundland, we can now see. From your past to your future? Should have been titled, from our murderous lazy past we have not recovered or, in that way we have lived is the way we shall go. If you need any more advice just holla!

WJM said...

The noble attempts to stabilize and improve NL's economy by the current government are merely delaying the inevitable death that awaits us.

Good God, "noble"?

Has the cult of personality around Danny gone that far? I thought Smallwood was bad. We are back in the 1950s. Smallwood will never die as long as Danny Williams is in power.

What's "noble" about anything Danny Williams has done, other than lying to the public and driving away billions of dollars worth of capital?

WJM said...

A population that does not share a common goal

Then it's time for the population to change its goal.

Instead of wanting to develop Labrador's resources for its own benefit, Newfoundland should be wanting to develop them for Labrador's benefit.

Common goal. Everyone's happy. Right?