They say you can’t please all the people all the time, so to balance it out, I might as well peeve all the people some of the time – or something like that. Now, before you go and get me wrong on this topic, most of my closest friends in Newfoundland were/are some form of separatist (is that like saying “I’m not racist, I’ve got an Indian friend”?). I found them fervent, interesting, and proud – qualities I enjoy in people, especially considering who my friends back in Labrador are. I also don’t want to (overly) annoy the fine people at the Indy who give me the opportunity to soapbox.
I believe that we are a province of duality (or more if you want to divide Newfoundland up between the townies and bay-folk; or Labrador amongst the Aboriginal groups and others) and we need to have more mutual respect and understanding as long as we are in confederation with each other. This has recently been highlighted by fellow columnists I respect on the topic of Newfoundland separatism (yep…noticeably absent is the word Labrador – pretty cool methinks but inspired me to have my say too)
In this vein, I would like to tell of of two (3? 4? 5?) solitudes
So I was visiting a federal government office building (location not to be disclosed, however it was NOT in Ottawa or Newfoundland and Labrador) and just as I entered I noticed something that stuck with me. As I was walking through, I happened upon one especially interestingly decorated cube in the hive. It was thoroughly coated with Newfoundland separatist/patriotic posters, signs, and so on. I mean there were Pink White and Greens, Red-Starred “Free Newfoundland” mugs, “Danny Chavez” posters, “Newfoundland Liberation Army” memorabilia nestled amongst the “Republic of Doyle” subtle knick-knacks and other office decorations.
My first thought was “now, hey! I wonder where they’re from eh?” My next thought was, “hey that’s pretty cool right? Way to be rebellious, show off that regional pride!” Heck, in every indoor workspace/office I’ve ever had I’ve flown the lovely Blue, Green, and White (+sprig). This is what happens to people who (feel they) have a unique identity (just like all the other regions of Canada do…) when they find themselves in a minority situation.
Something about that cube stuck with me and I finally figured out why
Well sorta. People all across our province sport these kinds of colours/emblems/etc, more than most places I’ve ever been actually. I can imagine that most people put up markers of your regional/provincial identity when away from home. Most (as the readership of this publication are predominately from Newfoundland and Labrador) probably would also walk by this person’s workspace and think positively about this expression of provincial pride.
Now, imagine a similar situation with another (government?) employee, sitting in some cube land. In this drone’s workspace, s/he has Fleur De Lys flags/mugs, with Rene Levesque posters, and FLQ material. Completely different feeling rises in your gut doesn’t it? Oddly enough there was a similar real-world experience like this, and there most certainly was a call for her head. She was fired for having political beliefs and being involved politically. I personally think it was the right thing to do to reinstate this woman. Like her, we all have our own views about confederation, and on the arrangement of our province in confederation. In order to have people respect my views I have to respect theirs – separatist or otherwise.
What struck me smack dab in the middle of the forehead like a blob of wasabi topped with English mustard is that separatists/secessionists/sovereigntists generally do not respect similar movements
There is something hypocritical about on one hand dismissing legitimate provincial positions/concerns of Quebequois(e) as separatist rhetoric (or treating them like they are the tail that wags the dog), while on the other hand remaining silent or sympathising with our own provincial rhetoric. Especially considering people walk around with the aforementioned PWG/NLA paraphernalia and rally when somebody says that we can “go it alone”, compares us to anti-english-Ireland, or rips Canadian flags down. Just read any number of the comment sections in the (social)/media for the glaring difference between Quebec and Newfoundland stories and responses.
Separatist posturing aside
I don’t know any province with more anti-Quebec sentiment than this one. Again, don’t get me wrong – I’m not against Newfoundland patriots. In fact, I support them in expressing their democratic right to be so. It’s just that when a Labradorian does the same and posts a picture on Facebook, or walks down the street in a “Free Labrador” tee (which one used to be able to buy at livingplanet.ca) don’t dismiss them, insult them, or ask them “free Labrador from what?” – you wouldn’t do that to someone wearing this would you? (I’ve seen/had this happen)
I, like my fellow Labradorians proved in a referendum, am strongly in favour of Canada
For those others in the province who would like to stay as part of Canada, you have the most legitimate concerns when you take a crack at ALL the separatists equally, but do be respectful please. For those on the island who support leaving the country, I respect your point of view, and even understand some of the reasons why. But for the love of all things decent, please respect the manifestations of similar but different causes (like this guy does – whom I have always respected and admired).
And finally (for now) for those in Labrador who are still interested in forming a separate province/territory/regional government – you have to respect and actively support those Newfoundland separatists – not attack them. Egg them on, because the Canadian constitution only allows for a region of a province (like Cape Breton…) to break off with consent of the entire province- i.e. it cannot be unilateral. The only realistic avenue for some form of independence, according to the wonderful Clarity Act, is that if Canada is divisible by a province leaving, so is the province leaving it.
In light of the above, I wholeheartedly support the cause of the Newfoundland separatist
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how this fervent BGW (+sprig) flyer can justify writing in a not-quite-subtle-PWG-waving “Independent”. Not only do I respect differing opinions in our society, I hope to share some of mine. While I don’t expect you to agree, I hope that it builds greater understanding and respect for each other in our province – and amongst provinces.
Moral of the story:
Be excellent to each other. For now at least.