The novel "Return of the Native" written by Jonathan Butler asks the question what is a Newfoundland and Labradorian? In the novel a gentleman of African decent finds he has a far greater sense of connection to his friends in home town St. John's than he ever did among other black Canadians in Toronto. The novel begs the question who is a Newfoundland and Labradorian?
A conversation with Snuffy Jackson who created the republic concept is a lesson in who we are and what makes us distinct. There are few stronger Newfoundland and Labradorians than this one-time livyer who is a tried and true Texan.
Ask someone from the new Nunasuivut government, ask a francophone from the West coast, ask an Irish Catholic Townie, a Labrador Metis, a fisherman from Marystown, a mill worker in Corner Brook, Mi'kmaq from Conne River, an immigrant living in sanctuary. They know. The great frustration though is in those who would tear us apart based on regional, cultural, and language differences. The challenge for our people is to define that elusive quality that connects us all. The quality that brought Udo Nomi home in the Return of the Native. The quality that leaves Snuffy Jackson with a quiver in his voice over the phone from Texas. The challenge is to represent us all; in government policy, in cultural song and prose, in art and literature.
That challenge has remained elusive. Drive through the streets of any town in the province. You will see the Maple Leaf, the Pratt Flag, the Union Jack, the Pink White and Green, the Labrador Flag, you'll find the Stars and Stripes and the Irish Flag... All of these in common use in the province. Each of them with vastly different representations, each of them attempting to express that elusive quality of the Newfoundlander, the pride and history of the Labradorian.
I think of a song by The Proclaimers called "Scotland's Story". In the song the brothers' Reid express what makes a Scot, "the Gael and the Pict, the Angle and Dane ... the Irishman, Jew and Ukraine, they're all Scotland's Story and they're all worth the same."
There is a lot said about being at the crossroads of history of this island and the big land. Our actions and sense of self today will define the place in history of this land for generations to come. Time to seek and discover those qualities we share. Those linkages that hold us together. Each link of the chain is essential.
Newfoundland and Labrador Defense League
Community Linkages Concept Committee