Speaking out against hate and ignorance

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There are many things that cross a Newfoundlander’s mind when they are faced with leaving home to find work; how they will miss the smell of the sea, how much they will miss their loved ones and, perhaps most of all, how they must face a country that has cast our people down since the day we joined in 1949.

A not-so-kind gentleman, Shawn Mitchell, had a Letter to the Editor published in the Calgary Sun this past week.

In it he called us unmannerly, uneducated, “job thieves.”

His random and unprovoked outburst of how Newfoundlanders “steal” Albertan jobs was a display of how unmannerly and uneducated he happens to be.

Such opinions would never be held by someone who was educated, and would never be said by someone with manners.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are world renowned for our hospitality, our kindness, and our fun-loving character.

We are some of the hardest working people on this planet and especially in this country have to call home.

For hundreds of years we lived off the sea, facing the waves that claimed so many of our young men, and faced the iron fists of fish merchants on land.

From the inshore fishery, to the seal hunt and the forestry, we worked from before the sun came up, to long after the sun had set, only to get up and do it all again the next day. We risked life and limb to work jobs that allowed us to flourish and thrive on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and on the barrens and forests of the Big Land.  

Outside of the fishery, jobs were hard to come by, but when we joined Canada more opportunities presented themselves.

Now, we still see many of our young men and women make the trek away from their homes and families to find work on the mainland, in oil fields, factories, and any other job they can find to provide for their loved ones.

Unfortunately, ever since we became “interprovincial migrants,” the sentiment held by Mr. Mitchell, as we all are aware, is all too common amongst our Canadian counterparts.

No Newfoundlander wants to leave home, no Newfoundlander wants to leave their family, and no Newfoundlander wants to face attitudes that are claim we are stupid and lazy because we are from Newfoundland and Labrador.

And no Newfoundlander should have to face such things.

Mr. Mitchell, if Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are able to fill Albertan jobs whilst under your assumption there are more Albertans than jobs, what does that say about the readiness and willingness of your province’s workforce?

It speaks for itself, and speaks for the quality of work we produce as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

There will be a day when the oil in Alberta dries up and the boom dies; when the jobs are to be found elsewhere in Canada; and when what Newfoundlanders have done for hundreds of years will be a way of life for Albertans.

But unlike the countless who share Mr. Mitchell’s hate and ignorance, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will open their arms and work side by side with whoever happens to call our province home. God guard thee Newfoundland.

Noah Davis-Power

St. John’s

Geographic location: Canada, Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland and Labrador Alberta

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Recent comments

  • PaulNorthRiver
    July 31, 2013 - 12:45

    Your letter is full of stereotypes. We are not "on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean", for example. We are on a massive island nowhere near the middle of the ocean. "No Newfoundlander wants to leave home" is, frankly, an insult. Many Newfoundlanders indeed want to and do leave home. It's a choice many make. Imagine that. And there are many Newfoundlanders, no doubt, who are as bigoted as anyone, anywhere else. Stereotypes are stereotypes and your letter is crammed with them.

  • Joe
    July 31, 2013 - 12:35

    So Naoh are we no longer to worry about our chose of beer as an earth shaking problem?

  • Maggy Carter
    July 31, 2013 - 11:32

    I did not read the Calgary letter. I see no point. It was not written by the newspaper or by a public figure. It should hardly surprise us that there are bigoted people in Alberta anymore than that they exist here. That said, some of the posts here are interesting and thought provoking for reasons that have little to do with the Calgary creep. For sixty odd years, Newfoundland has unquestionably suffered a form of racism and discrimination within Canada - by Canadians and by their national government. It still exists today as exemplified by Mr. Harper's characterization of Newfoundlanders and Maritimers as defeatist, lazy bums. And yet, outside Harper's cynical, right-wing, divide-and-conquer government, more ordinary Canadians have come to accept Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. That's despite our reputation as a somewhat backward, heavy drinking culture. We're no longer backward. We can hold our own academically and technologically with any other province, but oil and gas has not lessened the impact of substance abuse on our youth in particular. Moreover there has been erosion in our sense of compassion and sharing in a way that mirrors the economic reality that our rich are getting richer and our poor are standing still. And as others have pointed out, we have always tended to treat outsiders better than those alongside whom we've lived with for years. Maybe it's human nature. There can be no doubt however that this is still one of the friendliest, most accommodating and compassionate places in the world. We need to work hard to preserve it. That means, among other things, saying no to the current crop of provincial politicians and local councillors (especially in St.John's) for whom rampant development - especially the big business type - is the be all and end all of our existence.

  • Happily Retired
    July 31, 2013 - 09:49

    I have travelled all over the world, but haven't seen the hatred and ignorance that you claim. In fact most places I have visited have been just as hospitable as this province. In fact I've seen pettiness here that would make you shake your head. We shamefully gloated about Ontario when we became a "have province," we scorned Calgarians when they had the flood, practically every Newfoundlander will say something negative about Quebec. I wonder if we're too caught up in believing our own public relations programs. Let's be real, the guy in Calgary is just one person who wrote a letter. He does not represent all Calgarians. I lived in Calgary and they are just as nice as we think we are, so there's no need to launch an attack on them. Can we stop being so sensitive, and cut back on the whining?

  • Ron Tizzard
    July 31, 2013 - 09:23

    Abdul, you make a good point; and, I think you will agree that are elements of 'insecure bigots' in every country, every city, every neighbourhood throughout the world. We encourage and give them continued life simply by acknowledging them, either positively or negatively. These people, in their sick ways, live off 'ATTENTION' energized simply by being 'acknowledged'...either positively or negatively, Their bigotted behaviours disappear by simly being ignored...ignoring them, is as effective as spraying a bug with a toxic spray....it may take a little while, but most assuredly, they will stop their tirades as they realize they are not being given conscious attention, but rather ignored. Inthe scheme of things, the time we have to share with one another on this planet is very short; we shouldn't let a few bigots disturb the positive things to be experienced in life, in a positive community with positive families, friends and neighbours.

  • Kev
    July 31, 2013 - 08:19

    Why are "generous" Newfoundlanders so miserly and greedy in their treatment of Labrador?

  • Abdul Saieed
    July 31, 2013 - 07:07

    I too distain attributing broad generalisations to groups of people. You, however make an exception when you trot out the old and misleading characterizations of Newfoundlanders (as you define them) as "world renowned for our hospitality, our kindness, and our fun-loving character." World renound? Get over yourself. Some of us are friendly, others a little less so. The sentiments expressed by this Mitchell guy are not so different from opinions that are expressed on the online shows and Telegram feedback sections. There is an underlying resentment of Quebecers, Native groups, and immigrants. I have seen professional associations actively discriminate against “CFAs.” On top of that there is an ongoing distrust of townies against “bay men,” and vice-versa. In fact, I have rarely experience a place with so much anger and bitterness towards others as I have here. So while we may be no worse than anyone else, we certainly are no better.

    • Marge
      August 03, 2013 - 09:20

      Abdul, buddy, I could not have said it better. Your comment tells it like it is.

    • Stephen D Redgrave
      August 03, 2013 - 19:41

      ABDUL , my friend: I couldn't agree with you more. I was born and raised in Canada's Mainland , but here --I am treated like a worthless pile of steaming dog poop. Nowhere else in Canada could this happen. Mainland Canada has made thousands of Newfoundlanders wealthy and strong with respect and good treatment. The WAR is all in their heads. Time for Newfoundland to grow the hell up and join Confederation like they agreed to back in '49.

  • real westcoaster
    July 31, 2013 - 06:14

    " no Newfoundlander want to face attitudes that are claim we are stupid". You're sort of providing the fodder there bud.