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Letter: Searching for the truth about resettlement

['<p>When people moved from the islands of Placentia Bay to places like Arnold’s Cove during the Smallwood government’s resettlement program of the 1960s, some of their brought their homes with them, floating them across the water to be set up in their new home.</p>']
['<p>When people moved from the islands of Placentia Bay to places like Arnold’s Cove during the Smallwood government’s resettlement program of the 1960s, some of their brought their homes with them, floating them across the water to be set up in their new home.</p>']

Last night, on the Internet, I was hunting for new interesting abandoned outports, as I tend to do now and then. As a photographer I’ve found real deep beauty in visiting such places in Newfoundland and Labrador. Henley Harbour caught my eye, big time. But how to get there? Hike through the woods where there are no trails?

Ah, then thanks to Google Earth, I noticed the settlement (houses et al.) is located on several islands in the harbour. So, I contacted Battle Harbour to see if they might be willing to take people there, but they said it’s too far. So I thought maybe I should get into kayaking, then I read an article about two kayaking Americans who were heading to Horse Islands, north of Fleur de Lys — another of those abandoned outports that caught my attention.

Well, one of the kayakers capsized in bad weather and died. Hmm…

Then I got listening to Pat Byrne singing “The Government Game,” which got me thinking. What is the truth about all of that? It seems so many people hate Joey Smallwood because, according to them, he forced many Newfoundlanders to abandon their outport homes. Today, Little Bay Islands is in turmoil because of resettlement possibilities. But Smallwood isn’t around anymore to blame. Well, no matter, he’s still to blame, according to many, it seems.

But where is the truth? Were people really forced? Or did they vote, as they did regarding Petites and Grand Bruit? And if so, is that forced resettlement? And if the carrot of money overcame their will to stay put in their beloved communities, is that forced resettlement or voluntary and democratic, as opposed to Smallwood autocratic?

And if, indeed, there is hatred for what happened, why do so many in Newfoundland seem to favour Big Government? Indeed, Byrne oddly admits he too played the government game.

Hard core truth is what is needed, not aberrant sentimentality.

What is the truth here? Why are there numerous anti-resettlement songs?

 

G. Tod Slone
Barnstable, Mass.

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