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Letter: Our culture is to be celebrated

My name is Chad Richardson, a Newfoundlander currently living in Los Angeles. I, like many other expats, saw the original story of what happened in the T.O. airport last week and Robin Short’s column afterwards. I felt compelled to write.

Living in America, I have just gone though the craziest election in modern-day history and now I am living with the fallout of the results. I have a very diverse group of friends and my “Trump” friends will always be that — meaning there were never debates with the hope of changing someone’s mind but more a recounting of one’s opinions.

That’s kind of how I feel here, so this email is not to try to convince Robin Short of anything, but more so to just give you the perspective I have.

Living in Los Angeles is interesting. My many friends lament of the lack of individual culture they have here. Sure, there are places and such that only exist in California, but for example while watching a global food show, one friend said, “How sad is it that we don’t have anything in Cali like that… our food, unique to us.” Of course, this slipped me into talking about the many foods that we have that are unique to Newfoundland (cod tongues, cheeks, flipper pie, Jiggs’ dinner…). She was enthralled. It got me on a real tangent to talk about all the amazing things we have in Newfoundland and Labrador that make us unique to any other place in the world. We talked about mummering, Jellybean Row and, yes, the kitchen party.

So when I saw what happened in Toronto I sent her the video. She was dumbfounded at how incredible it was. Of course she, as an American, has no context or history of the “Goofy Newfie,” so for her it was like watching something from the travel channel. I beamed with pride.

If anything, this is a stereotype of how Newfoundlanders are culturally light years ahead of most of Canada.

We often, in life, take things for granted because we can’t see a world without. A world without this side of our culture and heritage would surely be a sad one. How lucky are we that we have things in N.L. that are ours that no one can take away. The days of the Goofy Newfie are over. People travel from all over the world and Canada to see and hear exactly what happened in the airport, and they marvel over it.

I’m 47, I was indeed around when Newfie jokes were all the rage, but we as Newfoundlanders proved our worth a long time ago. Those days are gone unless we keep them around. Unless we buy into their critiques of us from years past. Stereotypes exist for a reason. There is always a level of truth to them, but how this is a stereotype of the stupid, Goofy Newfie talked about in years past is beyond me. If anything, this is a stereotype of how Newfoundlanders are culturally light years ahead of most of Canada.

Besides my regular job as general manager of SOCAN L.A. (SOCAN being the performing rights organization of Canada), I am also a member of the 10-person Canadian Cultural Advisory Council, a group of industry professionals representing the different media in the entertainment world — music, TV, film, etc. We meet with the Canadian heritage minister in Los Angeles three times a year. So the spreading of Canadian culture as a whole is squarely on my radar and I’m very proud of the Newfoundland side of this.

I challenge you to take another look at this from maybe a different angle. Traditions make us who we are as a people, and we can’t ignore who we are as a people. I, for one, sitting here in 90-degree weather for Thanksgiving on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, have taken this whole event as a moment to truly give thanks for where I was spit out in this world. A beautiful rock in the middle of the ocean with a people, culture, cuisine and weather like nowhere else. If that makes me a Goofy Newfie, it’s OK. I’m 10 miles from Disneyland. I’ll hop in my car and see if the other Goofy wants to go for lunch.


Chad Richardson

Los Angeles, Calif.

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