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Leave us something to build on?

As headlines tell us that Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest oil spill is now impossible to clean up and the provincial government promises to investigate the scope of  the C-NLOPB’s authority, my plea to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador is simple: just build a solid line in your budget to provide real investment in the development of the sustainable energies of the future and the infrastructure needed for post-oil economies.  THE SOUND OF POST-OIL You can listen to Nick Mercer talk about the barriers to the development of wind energy in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the reasons it has strong potential. Nick Mercer is a PhD candidate in Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo. The province’s last budget doubled down on oil. Whether we agree with it or not, we know why: it seems like easy money. What else would induce provincial leaders to keep the province tied… Keep Reading

Part 3: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain Its Romance

Back home, you embark on a vigorous online research endeavour: Getting Better. Improvement from the Inside Out. Healthy Habits. Eating Organic. Holistic Nutrition. You read, take notes, keep an ongoing list of URLs, all the while recognizing how your focus slowly splits into thirds – get better, show you want to get better, get better just enough to stall your lover’s departure. It’s difficult to get into this wholeheartedly when you know your bank account won’t maintain these diets. Six dollars for a pack of greens turning wet on the produce shelf. Grocery chains sell you packs of blueberries for five dollars so you won’t get them for free in the ditch. And none of this online literature addresses your lifetime habit of just keeping your belly full. A limited food budget meant mom could get bologna and KD – it kept the kids happy, kept them going. It showed… Keep Reading

The Future Project: Who will pay for tomorrow?

We’re so much better at looking back than we are at looking ahead. We can’t quite get hold of the seventh generation principle. We don’t know how to make decisions that take into account our children’s future, never mind seven generations ahead. Years of working within various versions of capitalist economies have tied our imaginations to the money that can be made from this season’s catch, during this quarter, or, as in this gig economy, this next contract we can win. That’s the point of the increasing income gap between the rich and the poor. When more people are struggling more and more to pay for housing and food, how can we organize to plan for a better future for generations we haven’t even thought of? And there’s this: The future is risky, isn’t it? The Sound of Post-Oil NL Listen to our conversation with Delia Warren about a future economy… Keep Reading

Preparing for the post-oil economy

While some groups are helping workers transition out of the volatile oil industry, provincial legislation itself is proving a barrier to growth in renewable energy For nearly 30 years, crude oil has been a vital part of the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. After the mass layoffs of the cod moratorium in 1992 left 30,000 people out of work, many hoped that the burgeoning industry would be the province’s financial saviour. In many ways, it was. By 2008, 10 years after the first barrels were pulled from the Hibernia oilfield, Newfoundland and Labrador became a “have” province for the first time in its history. The unemployment rate steadily declined, and for a time, things were looking good. The Sound of Post-Oil NL Listen to our conversation with Delia Warren about a future economy that takes advantage of the skills of the current work force, one that doesn’t leave oil workers… Keep Reading

Indy Fiction/Post-Oil NL

Part 2: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance

Out of your discount chair and into the bathroom. You splash water on your face. In the mirror, you take a look at yourself from all available angles. Your reflection reprimands you: stop being a sook. Go for a walk, figure out how you’re going to get your shit together. Outside, low-hanging summer fog makes a crawl space of the city. You stomp until pavement becomes stone, stone becomes moss and cliff. You find a space to plant your arse and regard the persistence of your ocean. Find a way to keep going, it seems to say. Don’t drown in your own petulance. Easier said than done. It’s so easy to submerge yourself in thoughts of what you could have been. A little spitfire. A praiseworthy example. An actual nation. Instead, it’s obvious your ruggedness is an act. Lately, everyone sees you as a failing grade, a low price, a… Keep Reading

Journalism

Southern Inuit feel leader used them for political gains

Editor’s Note: This is a story co-published on APTN by Justin Brake. As a journalist with TheIndependent.ca, Justin Brake followed the land protectors onto the Muskrat Falls site and covered the occupation. He is facing criminal and civil charges from the event.  Justin Brake/APTN News Land protectors in Labrador facing civil and criminal charges related to the Muskrat Falls resistance are questioning the RCMP and a crown energy corporation’s decisions not to pursue charges against an Indigenous leader who went on to the dam’s construction site during a movement to stop the project in 2016. They also say that their leader, NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) President and former Liberal MP Todd Russell, failed to support Southern Inuit who were criminalized after following his lead.  They say throughout the movement to stop Muskrat Falls Russell was in pursuit of separate deals with the federal government and a provincial crown corporation. A video taken… Keep Reading

Indy Essay

Northern Ireland’s Unlikely Spirit of Freedom: The Art of Laurence McKeown

“Do you think it will ever end?” one character asks another in Laurence McKeown’s 2016 play Green and Blue. He is referring to the Troubles, the decades of violence in Northern Ireland that saw over 3600 dead, 16,000 shootings, and at least 10,000 bombings. McKeown is a former member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 for attempted murder. He joined the IRA at 17 after seeing people he knew interned without trial and feeling that his freedom amounted to hypocrisy. He was released in 1992 following a campaign that framed IRA prisoners as political hostages kept behind bars indefinitely while ordinary “lifers” were set free after 7 or 8 years. Today, at 62, McKeown works as an artist, producing films, books, poems, and plays aimed at responding to the political struggle that has shaped his life.  For centuries Ireland had been under British rule.… Keep Reading

Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Save its Romance

Part 1: You discover your lover’s email by accident. You aren’t sneaking — it’s addressed to you after all, even though it’s still lingering in the drafts folder. How are you not supposed to look at something for you? How do you ignore a message with a subject like Us? I have been thinking about leaving. You’re frozen to the computer chair. Your bare legs slowly paste themselves onto the warm vinyl upholstery. You bought the chair together on an excursion to a big box store where you weighed the pros and cons of ergonomic furniture. You both decided to go for the one on sale. Now there is always an ache between your shoulder blades after a long day of writing. Lately, it has become too difficult to envision our future. I know some of this is for my own personal reasons, but an unavoidable part of this decision is… Keep Reading

A Post-oil Newfoundland and Labrador?

Sure, the province decided to double-down on investment in oil in its last budget. That doesn’t change the fact that we’re heading toward a world with a lot less oil. There’s a lot of ink that could be spilled here about the various failures of leadership, citizenship and the media in getting us to the brink of a post oil-dependent world without any thought (never mind planning). But we want to focus on talking about what a future without oil might mean to us here. We’re not delivering solutions. We’re not prescribing tough medicine or pretending we know what medicine is the right kind. We are asking questions about what our future is going to be like and opening a dialogue. We’re hoping that, as a result, a few good ideas, some change-making energy, and some broader good comes of it all. We’re trying to move a mountain with a… Keep Reading

Global warming and corporate greed combine to destroy forests with fire and felling

The razing of millions of acres of forests by wildfires has been increasing in scale and intensity for the past few decades. This year has set new records for the number of trees and shrubs destroyed by fire—not just in the United States and Canada, but also in many other countries, including England, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Latvia, and North Korea. Wildfires, of course, have been a yearly occurrence in the summer months for centuries. Triggered mainly by lightning, they were Mother Nature’s way of disposing of dead timber and providing fertile ground for new plant growth. That is still an important natural process, although many conflagrations today are unnaturally caused by human carelessness, such as poorly tended campfires and flipped-away cigarette butts. Far more devastating for the world’s forests today, however, are the effects of global warming, mostly caused by the greenhouse gas emissions that emanate from the burning… Keep Reading

Opinion/To Each Their Own

It’s not about a hotel

Really, all the ado is not about a hotel. If St. John’s is so awash in tourists that we need a new hotel, nobody is going to argue. Nobody minds a new hotel for the tourists. It’s work for contractors, it’s work for staff, it’s money for the local economy. What this is about is entitlement. It’s about a merchant class elite business community which really contributes very little to this city (trickle-down economics never worked; what’s more important is that the rich pay their taxes rather than stashing it in offshore bank accounts), yet considers that the city ought to jump through hoops, waive regulations and give them whatever they want on a silver platter whenever they ask for it. This small city doesn’t have much. It’s got an unemployment rate twice the national average (the second highest of any Canadian city), overcrowded hospitals, no family doctors taking patients,… Keep Reading

Featured/Journalism

From Manitoba to Newfoundland – why understanding the significance of the treaty relationship is so important

When Loretta Ross was a young girl growing up in Manitoba, her school had a career day. The place was full of professionals from all sorts of fields. Yet there was only one Indigenous person. Ross was therefore drawn to him, and it was he who put the idea in her head that was to shape her future. “He said [Indigenous people] need lawyers. He talked a little bit about why we need lawyers—and I said that’s it! I’m going to do that. That’s what I want to be.” After the session, students returned to their classrooms, and their teacher asked them what careers they had decided they wanted to pursue. “I put up my hand, and she said: ‘What do you want to be?’ I said ‘I want to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a lawyer!’ And she squished her nose at me, and she said ‘Don’t… Keep Reading

Editorial/Opinion

It’s a Hard-Rock Life for Us: Unlocking Social Mobility to Fix our Economy 

In the summer of 2012, when oil was still going for over $100 a barrel, a Rex Murphy-led documentary returned from commercial break and opened with the line “he’s a symbol of [Newfoundland’s] happy reversal of fortune.” The camera cut to a shot of a rusty Bell Island Ferry and then to my mother’s home kitchen.  I had turned down a sizeable national scholarship in a decision to earn a bachelor’s degree in my home province, with the intention of running for the Bell Island town council inside of a year. Murphy saw my decision as an expression of the confidence people felt since shrugging off our status as a have-not province four years prior.  But we hadn’t all shrugged off our have-not status so easily. “Have” status in tow, every young (and old) Bell Islander can still recall someone refer to their hometown as Fraggle Rock—the setting and namesake… Keep Reading

Featured/Indy Essay

“God Curse Thee Megadam”: Greg Hewlett on Muskrat Falls

Six chance descriptions of the Muskrat Falls project: A project touted for its contribution to a sustainable energy future, and pursued doggedly for its renewable energy credentials by provincial and federal governments failing to meet emission targets, that not only produces huge amounts of CO2 and methane, but also becomes the foremost source of a debt that effectively binds provincial economic survival—at least in the near-term—to oil and gas production. A project presented as the cornerstone of the province’s long-term economic and energy security becomes a palpable threat to both. A project whose massive capacity is justified solely on the merits of future export revenues becomes one with no discernible viable markets. A project proposed as a major public asset, becomes the medium through which an essential service and its customers are financialized into a source of revenue on the global bond market, in an upward transfer of wealth that is as subtle as it is significant. In response… Keep Reading

Indy Essay/Journalism

Heroes, sisters and Christine Blasey Ford

I’m writing now about heroes: the different kinds of heroes sisters need in their lives, and the different ways sisters can—sometimes without knowing it—sort of accidentally, at the right time, be the kind of hero that sisters need.  I’m writing this today twenty minutes after a breaking news report tells us that Senator Jeff Flake has announced he will support Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court in the United States, just after survivors of sexual assault confronted Flake with their own stories. I read a Globe and Mail column that recounts Professor Blasey Ford’s story and the stories of so many other women who’ve come forward to tell us all that we still don’t know what to do about sexual harassment and assault and the inequalities it creates between men and women. I just read Elizabeth Renzatti’s words: “They’ll be remembered as heroes and I hope that counts… Keep Reading

Will the latest report on Canada’s shoddy childcare help to reduce government neglect?

A recent report on Canada’s abysmal failure to protect and care for the country’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens—its children—made headlines and stirred ripples of shame and outrage. Compiled by Children First Canada and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, the study found that children in Canada suffer from shockingly high rates of poverty, obesity, infant mortality, abuse, suicide, and declining mental health. Calling these grim statistics “deeply disturbing,” Sara Austin, director of Children First, pointed out that “Canada ranks as the fifth-most prosperous nation in the world, but there’s a big disconnect between the well-being of our country and the well-being of our children. All levels of government need to do more to ensure that children benefit from Canada’s overall wealth.” This plea for decent high-quality child care in Canada is only the latest in a long list of such supplications. It is only the latest such report detailing… Keep Reading

Talking about the weather in Windsor Lake…

It’s unusual for this publication to let an election or even byelection go by with nary a comment. Yet despite the rapidly approaching Windsor Lake byelection, it took me a while to figure out what to say. I considered focusing on the Liberals. Oh, where to start? Their failure to tackle unemployment, which is the province’s biggest crisis and one nobody seems interested in talking about? Their failure to do anything remotely constructive to grow or diversify the economy over the past three years? The fact they fall to their knees grovelling at any big industry that comes knocking, handing the big mainland industrialists whatever they ask for on a silver platter, whether it’s royalty concessions or waiving environmental regulations? The fact that they’ve done nothing to secure the people of the province against ruinous energy bills as a result of the Muskrat Falls debacle, besides some vague promises that… Keep Reading

Featured/Journalism/Q&A

Two thousand hours: Speaking Mi’kmaw in Newfoundland and Labrador

When Marcella Williams’ grandmother was angry at Marcella’s mother, she’d let loose a string of words Marcella didn’t understand. It was only as an adult, when she started learning Mi’kmaw from fluent speakers in other provinces, that she realized her grandmother had been calling her mother thick-headed, or stubborn. And, it was only when she started going to gatherings and heard Mi’kmaw songs that she realized that some of her early childhood campfire songs were traditional Mi’kmaw songs. She didn’t know because nobody in her family identified the words or the songs as Mi’kmaw. That’s the long reach of colonialism: it forced generations of Indigenous communities in Newfoundland and Labrador (and around the world) to hide their culture for survival (if they could) to avoid discrimination. As a result, languages began falling away, one by one. Marcella says her great-grandmother would have spoken Mi’kmaw fluently. Her grandmother spoke phrases and words… Keep Reading

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