I wrote this piece a few years ago when the Powers That Be were deciding whether to relocate us (mainly Hubby, we could join him if we wanted to) to another province. I wrote it because even though Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t my first home, the one I was born and raised into, the province where I spent my childhood or even my teenage or young adult years, I have grown to be a member of its community. To be rooted in its existence; to be placed within its confines and be a responsible member of its society. We are raising children into young contributing adults, who are attaining education and part-time jobs, building relationships and creating independent flourishing lives. This latest budget is like a kick in the guts for all of the work we’ve put into creating a family rooted in a flailing province. We feel like fools for putting our lives in the hands of politicians we trusted into moving the province forward, so our children could make lives for themselves here, and maybe not be forced out of its doors with their degrees in hand and goals thrown over Signal Hill. We were wrong. Now, with the encroaching end of University life for two of our ‘children’, we are egging them to move onwards and upwards, out of the province into which they have grown, out of the province they have called home for all of their lives. Out to get better jobs, better lives and a chance at moving forward. We may be going with them. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve contemplated jumping ship…or were asked politely to heave-ho. This budget may be the kick in the arse we need to get there.
We still love it here. We still think Newfoundland and Labrador has a lot to offer, however, we are dismayed and broken- hearted over the debacle they call fiscal responsibility. It’s not all of ‘them’. We did this too. Ugh. So, do we jump into a plane and head Westward young man with our young adults to start anew, or do we stay and weather the storm that is this brutal budget? Tough times, ahead my friends and the decision to stay or go will be made more visible as the cuts keep coming. I can’t sit and pretend my head is not on the chopping block. The cuts to services like mine are always the first to get the axe. Vulnerable populations are swatted aside in the name of ‘fiscal restraint’ and are forced to deal with already difficult challenges made even more arduous due to our inability to put humanity first. Compassion and human dignity are too expensive to support. And so it goes. I sit and wait to see where my fate will fall in the grand scheme of the government’s budget.
Thank you, Newfoundland and Labrador for the past 22 years…
From An Open Letter to Newfoundland and Labrador
“…I’ve had the privilege of living in a world where crime was on a much smaller scale, the children that my kids went to school with have become life-long friends no matter where on the island they live, and we have had family close by and far away, but never completely gone. From Danny Williams’, our former Premier’s mouth, came the phrase “Newfoundlanders have an innate sense of responsibility for their communities” and I have witnessed this several times over.
There seems to be a sort of communal outpouring of care for each other that is lacking in other provinces or even towns west of our shores. Here in St. John’s, we live in a neighbourhood that embodies that spirit. No child can walk down our street without the mother or father being friends with other mothers and fathers. We make sure someone is home; we make sure there is an adult present and if there isn’t by some happenstance, we step in. That’s called community, people. Fundraising for playgrounds, for sports teams, for Girl Guides it’s all in a child’s life and my kids have done their share. The understanding that family is the main portion of a child’s sense of self and giving that family the support it needs to sustain a life is an inherent part of being and living in Newfoundland. The past year we have seen many challenges to that family life, with the provincial cuts and layoffs, however, I have also seen a spirit here that will surpass these pitfalls with the never-ending belief that their home is not away, it’s here. Even if the jobs are scarce and the times are difficult, the young people forced out to look for work in other provinces, come back with a fervor that this is always ‘home’. We have made friends here that have become part of our family. We vacation together, live on the same streets, share the same worries and celebrate each other every chance we get. There’s a foreboding that this could all somehow end. That we could lose something or someone to change. No matter where we end up, I will have my SLS family, my family in Central, my family now on the west coast and my mainland family.
These provincial cuts have had a hand in our impending future. Hubby’s job is tenuous at best and with the thought of another move forging its way onto our doorstep, I can’t help but be grateful for the past eighteen years here. We have been able to raise our children in an environment free from abhorrent abuses of power, bullying, crime and rampant drug use. Oh sure, all those issues are here, but we seemed to have escaped their reach. The recent drive-by shooting has all residents appalled and angry that such violence has reached our rocky shores and so we should be appalled. So we should be angry. This isn’t indicative of the province I have come to know and admire. This is what happens on the mainland, not here. A mainlander I am and a mainlander I shall always be, but crime to this speaks of higher issues and greater responsibility. Get ye home, b’y we don’t want this shit here. We don’t want to be like everybody else. We are unique. We are the home of quiet acceptance and hospitality. Warm hugs and raucous kitchen parties. Tea and biscuits kind of people. We are Newfoundland. The only city I know of that when a TV show is shooting in any area of town, they broadcast the street closures on the radio and then the star of the show tweets his apologies for the inconvenience. He’s sorry that you had to detour making you five minutes late for work. He’s from the Goulds, Newfoundland. “Innate sense of responsibility for his community”. Yeah.
Thanks for the eighteen beautiful years. I’m just looking for eighteen more….
God love ‘ya.”