This is to let the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) know in advance that sometime next week I am going to commit a crime for which DFO is going to issue me a summons to appear at the Gander court.
Before I tell you the criminal activity in which I will be engaged, I want to tell you a little about myself.
I was privileged to grow up in a small fishing village — the son of a fisherman and a mother who spent a lifetime on the flakes and in the gardens trying to keep body and soul together. We made our living from the sea, and as a little boy in the boat with Father, I learned how to catch, split, salt and dry codfish. How to knit lobster heads, mend cod traps, hunt and skin seals properly and the hundreds of little tricks of the trade that had been passed down from one generation to the next, enabling survival in the harsh environment of Newfoundland’s northeast coast.
I will forever treasure the hours spent in the boats with Father and the time spent in the fishing stage and net lofts with the crewmembers, listening to their stories and being steeped in Newfoundland’s outport culture.
As a matter of fact, when you watch the wonderful ads aired by the provincial Department of Tourism across this country, you are seeing the re–enactment of a culture which holds a fascination for people from the four corners of the world.
Yes, culture is a word we hear a lot about in the tourism industry and in other provinces like Quebec, for example. And it is culture that brings me to the crime that I am going to commit next week. I know you’re getting curious!
Well, I’ll tell you. My little grandkids — three girls and two boys — are coming home for the Easter weekend, and the two little boys aged seven and nine, and the girls too, love to go out in boat.
So if there should be a calm evening next week, I may go out in the Main Tickle to look for a young harp seal and, just as I loved to go seal hunting with my dad, I am certain the kids will want to go out with Poppy.
I have already been told by DFO that to take my grandkids, aged seven and nine, out in boat with me, to show them the art of seal hunting, is an offence which will result in charges being laid against me in a court of law.
So I ask the readers of this newspaper who they consider the criminal in this situation?
The seasoned fisherman/sealer whose DNA compels him to teach to his grandkids the skills that his father imparted to him as a child, or the officer with the gun on his hip who scares those kids and shields them from a culture that is such a part of the people that we are?
I would love to hear from you.
In memory of all the young men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I say let freedom ring!