Friday, January 19, 2007

The Ecology of the Newfoundland and Labrador Culture

I always get a little deflated when there are articles about the defeatist Newfoundland and Labradorian. This is the opposite notion of what we have come to believe about ourselves. We were ready to lynch Margaret Wente when she said (in her maternalistic pseudo-sympathetic way) "I like Newfoundlanders, I really do - but their sense of victimhood is unmatched". As Newfoundlanders and Labradorians we know this is not the case, but at the same time we can not deny that there is something that holds us back. Is it just in our nature to be cynical? Have we put our fingers into the fires of deals-gone-bad one too many times. Are we afraid of getting burned again?

When the group the Newfoundland and Labrador Defense League (NLDL) was formed it's inception was in response to that alleged "can't do" attitude. It's goal quite simply being the "empowerment of the Newfoundland and Labrador People". To consider the potential, the "what ifs", given the resources and dedication we are known to have. What if we were not tied to the ideals of a political party? What if we remove the incentive of money and greed? What if we could tap into the enthusiasm that all but shut the doors at Costco? What if we could tap into the enthusiasm that blocks the phone lines when a Newfoundland and Labradorian is on Canadian Idol? This shows me the power is there, often beneath the surface but it is there, and it is strong. So we go back to the victimized Newfoundland and Labradorian who knows the failures of the fishery, Churchill Falls, the Sprung greenhouse - the chronic failure of industry to push Newfoundland and Labrador beyond the corner and finally take hold of the Golden Arrow of the Pratt Flag.

The victimized Newfoundland and Labradorian is not the true face of Newfoundland and Labrador . Although some may say "it will never work" there is an inner voice that says "please make it work!" and the less vocal majority who are saying "Hell yes we're going to make it work."

That's why the NLDL, FINALY, CLCC, Young Farmers and others have joined forces. That's the reason for the Dec 22 press conference with Ray Johnson and Rex Goudie. There is a lesson in the ecology of the George River caribou. It lives among the craggy barrens of Labrador in winter and its population thrives. It is in fact the largest population of caribou on the planet. It doesn't flourish on blatant abundance. It lives on lichens and small alpine plants. On closer inspection we can see that there is more than enough life and hope among the rocks to sustain this place. Find the fighting Newfoundland and Labradorian who are anchored to the rocks and get your own footing. They are out there. There are no give-aways on the rock or the big land. For the fighter though the wealth is here. It is persistence in this often-formidable landscape that lets us live because in the end this is where we flourish. As those before us have fought and flourished - this is home.

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