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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Who WIll Speak for Newfoundland and Labrador

By Myles Higgins & Darren Fancey

Today several groups in the province stood together to deliver the message that the time has come for everyone to stand up and speak for Newfoundland and Labrador. No longer is it good enough to simply wait for someone else to do something. No longer is it good enough to depend on politicians. The time has come for each and every person in the province to make a stand and make a future for the province.



The Newfoundland and Labrador Defense League (NLDL) in partnerhip with groups like the Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador's Youth (FINALY), The Community Linkages Concept Committee (CLCC) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Young Farmer's Forum (NLYFF) launched a new web site today, WeStand.ca, a site intended as a venue for youth to share ideas and discuss their futures. These groups were joined by bright and talented Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, artists and entrepreneurs like Shelly Broomfield, Jill Curran, Jamie Baker, Rhonda Tulk-Lane, Chan Wiseman, our very own Steve Penney, Ray Johnson and Rex Goudie.

Together they delivered a simple yet powerful message: that the will and passion of the Newfoundland and Labrador people will be the strength that drives this province into future prosperity. The message was directed at the teachers and parents of our youth to instill in them the positive spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador. To encourage them to believe that the choice work in Newfoundland and Labrador, that the choice to be innovative and create new industry and ideas is attainable right here at home. The message was also directed at those who would challenge the idea of revitalizing rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and would discourage our youth from following their dreams. The message for the nay-sayers is that a fundamental shift in thinking is necessary to drive the positive force that is our youth and that the time has come to take charge of our own futures.

The conference opened with the inspirational words of Ray Johnson of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. Ray is Chairperson of the Flambro Head Heritage Society, Acting Chair of the Community Linkages Concept Committee and a member of NLDL. He shared his passion for the province and spoke of the choices our youth have in front of them.

“...some of us must make the choice to leave, others wonder if they have a choice to stay.”

When questioned on how we can resolve the choice of our youth to stay Ray responded “With inventiveness” He spoke of the hard-work and ingenuity that has built this great land. The never-say-die attitude of past generations who made it work because they had to; because the bond with their home strengthened their resolve. We as Newfoundland and Labradorians have to recapture some of that attitude and ingenuity and with it we will prosper.

The conference also highlighted by some of examples of the ingenuity and drive of our youth who have managed to build successes in rural Newfoundland and Labrador:

Jill Curran returned to N&L and built a business in Ferryland offering a unique tourism experience. Her venture called Lighthouse Picnics has grown from a makeshift roadside stand to a business which employs seven people. She spoke about increasing rural economic development.

Jamie Baker is a columnist originally from Dildo spoke passionately about the need for regionalization.

On Youth issues Steve Penney of the NLDL spoke about education and the obstacles of student debt.

Shelley Broomfield is an Innuit from Labrador who is a brilliant mind and well-spoken Labradorian who told the conference about Aboriginal Youth Issues.

Rhonda Tulk-Lane of FINALY spoke about out-migration and her own experience in taking the leap of faith to return to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Chan Wiseman of the Newfoundland and Labrador Young Farmers Forum used his experience growing up in a farming family to speak about diversifying rural Newfoundland and Labrador economies beyond one-industry towns.

To close the list of guest speaker Rex Goudie, who went through hell and high-water to make sure he was able to make it to the conference, spoke about valuing where we come from and what we have. Without any notes Rex spoke from the heart, describing seeing so many of his classmates and friends working out west. He spoke of the simple pleasures that he grew up with and still looks forward to when he returns to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The conference closed with a final thought from Ray Johnson who asked, “Who will speak for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?”. His answer: “I Will. You Will. We Will.”

All organizations and individuals involved are convinced that there is a future for rural Newfoundland and Labrador and they are determined that the press conference today will be just the beginning of further efforts to ensure that change is pushed from the bottom up since successive govenments in the province have done little to save the province they all love.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your conference. I saw a story on the NTV evening news on the conference. I especially found a segment when Ray Johson spoke to be quite poignient.

I believe that making such presentations to our youth is a fantastic idea. What you people are doing is planting a seed with those who will be our future entrepreneurs and leaders.


Regards,
Artfull Dodger

Anonymous said...

So, What did the "intellectuals" at the conference decide upon?
When the next meeting will be?


What is the minimum wage in Nfld?
How many people live under the poverty line?
How many families are forced to use food-banks?
How many kids graduate high school?
How many go on to further education?
The next time anyone travels outside of the province, what are the options: an old and unsafe ferry?
How about if anyone wishes to fly to Europe?
Newfoundland has to be the most isolated province.
Who is to blame?
...The politicians you elect.







Nothing will change until people can actually get a good and secure job and make some money to afford a comfortable life-style.

Your politicians have to deal with reality.
The rest is wishful thinking.



Merry Christmas,
Pat.

Anonymous said...

Pat Merry Christmas to you as well.

These are good questions and I hope this group will be able to do something about solving them. I do know the group has a whole lot of heart to do so and an extreme love for their province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I hope that with these attributes and the group's willingness to try and move things forward, it will be successful in doing something about the unfair position in which the province of Newfoundland and Labrador finds itself in the country of Canada. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador should never have ended up being in the unfair position it did within Canada, given the resources it was endowed with, but we did end up impoverished and now we have to do something about it. We have analysed our position, and we know what we possess here, so now is the time for action to do something about that unfair position. The time for ACTION is upon us. Good luck to the Group. I wish them the best.

Anonymous said...

Who will speak for having a new topic?
Talk, talk and more talk........never any action.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Rex Goudie shacked up in Toronto with that skanky Canadian Idol chick?

So much for living in wonderful Newfoundland.

Anonymous said...

Ok. You are right "anonymous"


Talk...

Talk and more talk

No action.


Pat

David said...

So what action are you taking? At least these folks are trying to work together to do something, anything at all, what are you doing Anon besides crapping on someone who is sincerely trying to make a difference. It's clear where you stand, in the shadows crapping on everyone else. Merry Christmas to you. You are obviously a sad human being in need of some cheering up.

Anonymous said...

David - I concur, if these two young people are an item, what is the matter with that? I wish them all the best in life, love and careers.

Rex demonstrates so much love and care for his province, who can fault him for that? I am as thrilled as if he were my son.

So please Anon if you can't say something nice and respectful, keep your thoughts to yourself, especially disrespectful thoughts that concern two beautiful young people who are trying to make it in this beautiful, but sometimes no so nice World when it comes to people. Thanks Rex for coming out and stating your feelings for this province. We love you for it.

Anonymous said...

There was a young lady from Labrador on that panel. Brilliant and very well spoken. I spoke with her before and after the conference and her sincerity and love for Labrador is inspiring. I am grateful to her because now when I think of Labrador I will not be reminded of Ottawally but can instead be reminded of my friends and relatives in the Big Land and this wonderful lady who represents Labrador so well.

Anyone who was at the conference will tell you the experience was a wholly positive one. More than any sound bite or news clip can convey. It was the inception of a small and growing network of Newfoundland and Labrador individuals and groups who share very similar ideals and passion for this province. Nothing but good can come out of that and I therefore feel blessed that I could have been there.

Anonymous said...

Shelly Broomfield was the name of the young lady from Labrador who was part of the panel. Shelly is a very intelligent young lady who is very well educated. She spent some time out of the province, and I believe she might have even been out of the country to further her education. She has come back, and from what I understood from her speech she wishes to remain in the province and do her part in making this province work. I am sure Shelly will be a great addition to this province, no matter where she decides to settle. She will make us all proud.

The panel put off a great session on Wednesday, and I hope there will be another session of some sort from that same group in the not too distant future.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what is wrong with these conferences, no matter what type of people attend the conference.
It is just talk.
All they decide upon is when the next meeting will be.


DO SOMETH├ŹNG.
Stop with the talk. Lets see some action.


Or maybe ----
it really is too late


Pat

Anonymous said...

No, Pat it is not too late. Please do not be so pessimistic. These people are the forerunners of the ones who will guide us into prosperity. We now know who we are, what we possess and where we want to go. Also we have the natural resources. Please God, we will get there soon. Knowing what has gone on is half the battle, the next half is guidance, and that guidance is starting to present itself.

kodak said...

Anonymous, you are like many in Newfoundland & Labrador who are frustrated with our economy, and the problems you mentioned, high unemployment, lowest minimum wage, etc. Realistically our province will not be an actual "have" province perhaps for several decades to come because of our large debt. However, economically speaking we're in the right direction - have lead the country in economic growth in 2006 Resource-rich provinces to lead economic growth in 2006. But on the way to that point, every and any effort to promote more self reliance can only be a good thing.

In the write up by Myles and Darren, they mentioned a couple of key points. Educators and parents were mentioned as a key target for the message of "think outside the box", and use our own talents and creativity in our province. It may not have seemed like anything constructive to you, but this is a key piece, (i.e., the mentality of seeing more value in place we live and who we are) in evolving into a more prosperous province with more opportunity. There are many successful ventures in the province, and obviously more are needed. It is frustrating that the pace of economic health is not faster, but to me, our culture, and many regions and people are still in some respects in a transition period.

There were tens of 1000's (more than currently) employed by the fishery up to 1992, and for many communities that was/is the only industry. We don't have alot of Nortels in that type of culture - there was hardly any urban/small business mileau, where one was exposed to a variety of careers, and business talk. I'm not forgetting St. John's, but this city is doing well as an economic zone.

However, alot of "good" things are happening here already, e.g., in tourism alone, adventure tourism, kayaking, whale watching, to name a few. It's not black/white as one might infer from your message.

In recent years the message of our own province being beautiful itself, is one area that has a long way to go to reach a peak in terms of opportunities being taken advantqage of. Growing up in a small but beautiful community, I often envisioned several islands out in the bay, someday being part of a tourism venture. Most people did not because the fishery, and moving away for work was more the norm. My point is that the mindset to see our land, bays, communities from the perspective of how, for example, US or Japanese urban dwellers, might view such a peaceful, wide open, clean and natural beauty, is one of the key changes we need to have in our people. We are indeed cut of from the physical connection to mainland Canada, but as you must know if you are a citizen of this province, there are successful IT businesses here, and we have potential for more industry in that field too, from programming from anywhere including rural areas, home; software training by phone or computer, again from anywhere. I've done that.

The panel that Myles and Darren mentioned included successful people, some in the arts and entertainment realm. That is another area where there is alot more potential. As word gets out, and as people like Ray Johnson, and Rex, show that you can make a living from musical talents or show business, others who have that desire, but who live in places with no community infrastructure, i.e., acting club, venues, or are not directly culturally exposed to that field, may be encouraged to seek out a career that might be well suited to them that way. So it is important for a panel like this to speak to the public and promote a more positive mindset. To me that is being constructive. What is also constructive is making your voice known, and lobbying for improvements where you think the economy, environment and society will benefit.

For me, it's important for future generations especially, to view Newfoundland & Labrador as rich in more than minerals and oil, but rich in it's natural beauty, in its assets, i.e., clean air, lots of space, growing population of more educated and skilled individuals. We all have certain images/impressions of various exotic places in the world, be it, New Zealand, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, but we also need to look at ourselves from outside, and realize that we can determine how others see us. Like anywhere else, marketing creates the images. There have been and are efforts to broadcast positive images of this place, The Ambassador, and these need to continue, and be strengthened.

Anyway, the panel, and groups like the Newfoundland & Labrador Defence League, are promoting a more independent mindset. The NLDL only formed a few months back and have a bright group of people very interested in NL's welfare. The more they or any group discusses issues related to our future benefit the better. There are major mega developments happening and the more education we as a people and political voice have, well hopefully we can better determine the directions our province needs to take to develop natural resource opportunities.

Anonymous said...

Kodak - Thanks for your very positive and constructive piece of writing. It made my day.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year to you and yours Myles and to all of you who have taken the time to post!

Anonymous said...

I read an interesting article in the Dec 21st edition of The Independant 'Change With The Times'. Many good points were brought forward by the youth in that article. Somebody here stated that all we do is talk, well the truth is that everything begins with a dialogue, you must plant a seed to grow a mighty oak.

We need to take a hard and serious look at ourselves in this province. We need to strive for more than mediocraty. We can't simply depend on elected persons to make the needed changes, we need to let our elected persons know that we won't accept mediocraty any more!

Regards,
Artfull Dodger

NL-ExPatriate said...

Thanks for that very informative and poignant post Kodak.
The Ambassador site is a new one to me and I just signed up for their news letter.

Govt can't do it all it is time the people got involved and maybe with govt's help an the involvment of more people we can make a difference.

That is assuming the "Society for the preservation of the Most scenic Ghetto in Canada" doesn't curb any and all forward thinking initiatives.

WJM said...

We are indeed cut of from the physical connection to mainland Canada

"cut off", you mean.

I don't feel "cut off" here on the mainland in Labrador. There's a 1000-mile land border, two highways, and a rail line, making physical connections.

Most of the province is part of "mainland Canada".

Why are so many Newfoundland nationalists so Newfoundland-centric?

kodak said...

Most of the province is part of "mainland Canada".

Is it really? According to the NL Tourism (possibly 2005 figures) dept., the population of Labrador is 27,105, and the population of the whole province is 515,591. The province's current population is 508,955 (Oct. 1, 2006) (NL Stats Agency).

Why are so many Newfoundland nationalists so Newfoundland-centric?

WJM, there are alot of bloggers interested in the welfare of Newfoundland and Labrador and they often state so. But any time you see an opportunity where you perceive an ommission of Labrador, you pounce. There are many who want to see our whole province improve in every respect, from employment to health care, but would that make them Newfoundland Nationalists?

kodak said...

Omission, rather than "ommission".
Saving you the trouble wjm

WJM said...

Is it really?

Yes, it is.

According to the NL Tourism (possibly 2005 figures)

According to the same source — and these figures don't change significantly from year to year — the area of Labrador is 294,330 km2. The area of Newfoundland is 111,390 km2. Labrador is thus about 72% of the province. Discounting island areas of Labrador (Belle Isle, the Aulatsiviks, and thousands of others), the land area of Labrador is still in the 70% range of the area of the province.

dept., the population of Labrador is 27,105, and the population of the whole province is 515,591. The province's current population is 508,955 (Oct. 1, 2006) (NL Stats Agency).

Irrelevant. "Mainland" is a physical geographical concept. Most of the province is on the mainland of Canada, even if most of the population of the province is not.

WJM, there are alot of bloggers interested in the welfare of Newfoundland and Labrador and they often state so.

Most of the bloggers of the Newfoundland nationalist ilk are, like too many Newfoundlanders in general, only concerned with Labrador to the extent that Newfoundland can get something out of us.

But any time you see an opportunity where you perceive an ommission of Labrador, you pounce.

Is that so wrong?

I recall more than a few times where Newfoundlanders have "pounced" on a statement like "Victoria to Halifax".

What's the difference?

There are many who want to see our whole province improve in every respect, from employment to health care, but would that make them Newfoundland Nationalists?

Nope, not in and of itself. It depends on the means they propose to do that.

kodak said...

I hardly think that nearly half a million on the Island of Newfoundland is irrelevant. If you want to say that most of the province is connected to mainland Canada using geography alone, well you're ignoring the vast majority of people who make up the province.

But any time you see an opportunity where you perceive an ommission of Labrador, you pounce.

Is that so wrong?

I recall more than a few times where Newfoundlanders have "pounced" on a statement like "Victoria to Halifax".

What's the difference?

... Most of the bloggers of the Newfoundland nationalist ilk are, like too many Newfoundlanders in general, only concerned with Labrador to the extent that Newfoundland can get something out of us.


Expectedly so, you'd be defensive about the place you're from. But, when there are many others (bloggers) who publish their opinions/write-ups on the economic well-being of Newfoundland and Labrador, you deride their attempts with an obvious bias against Newfoundlanders. Again, you perceive that "most" Newfoundlanders are only interested in Labrador for what "we" can get out of it. Well that's a pretty subjective analysis "most", unless you've done some blogger survey. There may be people who do still perceive Labrador to be just a resource for "us" (Newfoundlanders), but to me that's an old fashioned attitude and concept, and to many others I've read too. However, otherwise your voice like any other Labradorian or Newfounlander is very valuable when it comes to any Labrador issue.

WJM said...

I hardly think that nearly half a million on the Island of Newfoundland is irrelevant. If you want to say that most of the province is connected to mainland Canada using geography alone, well you're ignoring the vast majority of people who make up the province.

I'm not saying that most of the province is "connected to mainland Canada".

I'm saying it IS "mainland Canada".

Most of the province's landmass is contained within mainland Labrador.

Only 30% or less is comprised of Newfoundland and its lesser islands, and islands off Labrador.

"Mainland" is a geographical statement, not a population one. A distinction between "province" and "mainland" is entirely bogus, since most of the province is not an island, or located on an island, to begin with.

Expectedly so, you'd be defensive about the place you're from. But, when there are many others (bloggers) who publish their opinions/write-ups on the economic well-being of Newfoundland and Labrador, you deride their attempts with an obvious bias against Newfoundlanders.

No, an obvious bias against Newfoundland nationalism, separatism, and anti-Labrador imperialism.

Again, you perceive that "most" Newfoundlanders are only interested in Labrador for what "we" can get out of it.

For the most part, in my experience, yes.

Well that's a pretty subjective analysis

No more or less so than the "Blame Canada" Newfoundland separatist garbage that gets spouted around these parts.

There may be people who do still perceive Labrador to be just a resource for "us" (Newfoundlanders), but to me that's an old fashioned attitude and concept,

Yes it is, which is all the more exasperating that it still exists in the 21st century.

Since Newfoundlanders won't listen to me, or to other Labradorians, who are trying to disabuse youse of it, what are YOU doing to get rid of that attitude?

kodak said...

I'm not saying that most of the province is "connected to mainland Canada".

I'm saying it IS "mainland Canada".


Many parts of Newfoundland, maybe all, often say "mainland" when referring to one of Canada's main centres of economic activity, and/or population, markets, or employment (this is how I meant it in the original post above). Growing up on the Burin Peninsula, I heard Labrador referred to in statements like, "he's working up on the Labrador". People who went away to central Canada usually went to the "mainland".

Since Newfoundlanders won't listen to me, or to other Labradorians, who are trying to disabuse youse of it, what are YOU doing to get rid of that attitude?

In my own small way these are some things I do/have done:

(1) I wrote a letter to the NL Tourism dept. about a Labrador signage issue that NL-Expatriate brought up to begin with
(Insightful and damning view of tourism in Newfoundland Labrador July 24, 2006)

(2) If I happen to write a blog about a specific NL issue like sealing or mining waste in freshwater ponds, I refer to Newfoundland AND Labrador.

(3) Include Labrador links on my blog site.

If "Labrador" is not stated it wouldn't be because of some anti-Labrador attitude.

WJM said...

Many parts of Newfoundland, maybe all, often say "mainland" when referring to one of Canada's main centres of economic activity, and/or population, markets, or employment (this is how I meant it in the original post above).

Which is all well and fine.

But when Newfoundlanders distinguish between "province" and "mainland", that's just wrong.

There is no way around it. As a question of fact, it is wrong.

Growing up on the Burin Peninsula, I heard Labrador referred to in statements like, "he's working up on the Labrador".

Interesting... if Labrador is just another part of Newfoundland, why didn't they say "northern Newfoundland"? ;)

(1) I wrote a letter to the NL Tourism dept.

While you're at it, would you write one to Hospitality Newfoundland and Newfoundland, asking them why they are absolutely fixated on Marine Atlantic, while letting the provincial government completely off the hook for its abyssmal failures when it comes to Labrador transportation?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

WHO CARES???????

Anonymous said...

From one "gutless" (at least I don't mind admitting it!!) "too chicken to reveal identity" anon to another : THANK GOD NOT EVERYONE TAKES YOUR SICKENING " WHO CARES?" ATTITUDE!! If that were so,I shudder to think of the state we would be in, compared to the way things are presently. Oh well,I guess it could be worse. There could be more people with your attitude!!

Anonymous said...

The state you would be in?? This place is only ever in one state and that is a state of fatalism and self-pity.

kodak said...

wjm, I just might write a letter and will let you know. Certainly the TLH needs to be completed with hard top, for residents' convenience alone, medical emergencies where time is an important factor. This is a priority for sure. Also, tourists would be more enticed to drive through Labrador just to view the landscape alone. Feel free to provide an update on any news or developments, that you're aware of, on this in the meantime.


"Why wouldn't they say Northern Newfoundland?" I'm guessing that because Labrador is physically separate from Newfoundland. Harbour Breton, Gaultois and places on the south coast, and the Burin Peninsula are often referred to as southern Newfoundland. Places like St. Anthony, Fleur de Lys, or Twillingate are on the north side of the island and can be referred to as northern Newfoundland. Maybe not everyone refers to those places like this, but that's the way I often use it.

NL-ExPatriate said...

If you really look at it the provincial ferries are the equivalant to provincial roads and as such isn't it the normal practice that road work is cost shared between the province and the feds?

WJM said...

isn't it the normal practice that road work is cost shared between the province and the feds?

Nope.

Except that in Newfoundland, since Confederation, the practice has been to go begging to the federal government for just about every highways project.

But let's assume that all "road work is cost shared".

NINETY CENTS of every dollar that's ever been spent on the TLH has been federal.

That's not "cost-sharing".

That's Newfoundland bleeding Labrador dry, the passing the buck to Ottawa.

When is the province of which Labrador is supposedly a part going to kick in the 40 percent that it rightfully owes, if "cost-sharing" is the norm?

Anonymous said...

Newfoundland separatism - I don't kn ow much about politics, but here is an idea - if NL separates, Labrador might get some wild ideas, and I think there is no NL without Lab. We want to preserve our culture, Quebec wants to preserve their culture..but our culture has roots in Europe, but really began 500 years ago when French, English, Irish, Scottish, even Portugese...etc, and settled and made trade with the natives...and eventually outnumbered them. So, Eastern Canada has its own distinction, which sets them apart in so many ways from the west. We also have a lot of resources combined and boomin economies. Including Quebec, the Maritimes, NL and especially LAB, we have a rich culture to promote that is our own (not Canada's or Europe's) and therefore a rich tourism industry; we have plenty of universities and qualified people (although currently a labour shortage for services); we have soooo many resources like metals, oil, uranium, water, lumber.....maybe we can al realize our connections and attributes to come together as one and say goodbye to the west. I had to come out west for a job, and only after living here did I realize the rgeat divide between the east and the west of Canada. Personally. I root for the East. That includes Quebec, the Maritimes and NL. Hopefully I can start something with this oh-so-innocent commment.:)