Our spirit and way of life have been dispossessed
Dispossessed of our coastal opportunities and maritime culture, we have also become dispossessed of our beautiful rural communities and way of life. Dispossessed of the vitality of our fishing resource and of our spirit fish the cod. Because of it our coastal people have been dispossessed of their spirit!
We trusted that Canada would never violate its duty to protect and manage our fishery for us, but we have been badly mistaken. Canadian governments, including the current administration, have repeatedly ignored and disrespected the treasured fisheries resource we brought into confederation. While allowing the disintegration of this, our ocean’s bounty, they turned their backs to the consequential plight and fragmentation of our people, our coastal communities and families.
Our union with Canada shows a record of the resource development of our minerals, hydro, forests and oil that not only put central concerns first and foremost but also in our fishery, put even foreign involvement and benefit ahead of those of our own province.
The difficulties and failed attempts our province has had in addressing these issues with Ottawa have far exceeded those of other provinces in similar situations. To where it can be said that the democracy held for other provinces do not apply or hold, in the same way for Newfoundland and Labrador.
What have we said or done about this treatment by Ottawa? What can be said about our own, those whom we have elected to represent us and protect our rights, as well as our priceless resources and future? Where is the stance and unity of voice of our provincial government and fisheries union in objection to the federal government’s illegal treatment we have been subjected to in the unfolding of our fisheries ruin?
As long as there is an ongoing wrong being perpetuated on our people and their common property resource and we live in a democratic country, it is the duty of our elected leaders to pursue and persevere in their voice, and objection and do all that is in their mandated power to correct the wrongs in our fishery. Where is this action? Is there any at all? I am inconsolable by the silence of our officials on this issue.
There is effort and action on what does not exist yet, Muskrat Falls. Constant strides are being made to improve our health care and education systems. There is even redress for the Upper Churchill, but for the biggest and most important industry for our province’s people and their future, the fishery, there is a void.
If our leaders can’t respect who we have been as a fisher people, and the fishery to which half our people are still connected to, then they do not respect themselves, where most have had past connection to the fishery. If you don’t respect yourself and show it by actions to others how will others in the hallowed halls of parliamentary power respect you? If our province and provincial leaders are not respected in Ottawa, and they are not, they will never respect our fishery and its people.
We need provincial leaders, and officials, who will make it a priority to stand up for our province, our coastal resource and rights.
We need leaders who appreciate the value, strength and character of our province and the part played in that by fishers and their industry. We need leaders who understand and feel the pain that is in the hearts of our people because we have had our spirits broken - our way of life denied because we have had our fishery taken from us. We need leaders who understand that we must get back our fishery; who understand when it does come back we the fishers and coastal people of Newfoundland and Labrador will no longer be dispossessed of our own spirit and coastal way of life. Phil Earle, Carbonear