Making the Choice to Stay, Live and Work in Newfoundland and Labrador
Today the NLDL stood together 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). We stood with 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.
Panelists: Jill Curran, Steve Penney, Rhonda Tulk-Lane, Rex Goudie, Ray Johnson, Chan Wiseman, Shelley Broomfield and Jamie Baker
We stood together as a group with a simple but very 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 is 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. The message was also directed at those who would challenge the idea of revitalizing rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and would discourage our youth from 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 rural communities.
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 and Acting Chair of the Community Linkages Concept Committee. He shared his passion for the province and spoke of the choices our youth make “some of us must make the choice to leave, others wonder if they have a choice to stay.” The message he wanted everyone to take away from the conference is that we do have a choice. 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 was also highlighted by some of the 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 offers a unique tourism experience. Her venture called Lighthouse Picnics has grown from a makeshift roadside stand to a business which employs a seven people. She spoke about Increasing Rural Economic Development.
Jamie Baker is a columnist originally from Dildo who 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 Inuit with a brilliant mind and is a well-spoken Labradorian who told the conference about Aboriginal Youth Issues.
Rhonda Tulk-Lane of FINALY spoke about the 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 the one-industry towns.
To close the list of guest speakers 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 in Fort MacMurray. He told us of the simple pleasures that he grew up with and still looks forward to when he returns to Newfoundland and Labrador. Playing a game of shinny and snowmobiling. The joy of the outdoors, the freedom we have in this province to enjoy the environment. With a message directly for the young people in the audience he reminded them that it is these simply pleasures that are worth preserving.
The conference closed with a final thought from Ray Johnson. He pointed to the six students of Mary Queen of Peace who had left during the speeches. "These" he said "represent the youth who will be lost due to out-migration" and reminded us of the impact of this trend. He asked “Who will speak for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?”. His answer: “I Will. You Will. We Will.”
To follow up on the message of: “Making the Choice to Stay, Live and Work in Newfoundland and Labrador”, the launch of a new website was announced. Building on the phrase from The Ode to Newfoundland – “where once they stood we stand”. "westand.ca" will build on the momentum of this Christmas Press Conference and bring our message into the new year.
Congratulations to all organizers and participants. The emotion and passion in the room was evidence that this was a press conference like no other.