Our spirit and way of life have been dis­pos­sessed


Dear edi­tor,

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

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