I understand that we have all been discussing the budget and it’s affects on this province. I am sure every Newfoundland and Labradorian has heard numerous times, the ins and outs of the budget: the increase in HST, the gas price increase, the loss of baby bonus and the levy.
I do not have to recite the tremendous cuts on the people of this province.
But I do have to point out some shady misconceptions we have been standing behind. Our province likes to tell the rest of the country that our doors are always open, we are the friendliest bunch you ever did meet, our community laughs and grieves and works together.
Well, that’s a lie.
We do not work together. We ignore the poor and love the rich, just like the rest of the world. Letting the rich dole out a sad $900, while someone making 25k donates a massive portion of their income to pay off this deficit and this budget is decapitating our culture and community in one quick sweep.
Growing up in the 80s I was always told I would never work in my province. The mainland was a place of prosperity and jobs and great brand names and government positions, with money and fabulous houses and wonderful people who knew better than me.
As I grew older, I became attached to Newfoundland. I drove to school on my skidoo, my mother skinned rabbits in our laundry room, my father taught me how to ice skate on a pond and took me into the woods for the weekend. People came in during the holidays for a drink and stayed questionably late until mudder kicked them out to the shed. Every ounce of Newfoundland seeped into my blood and warmed my soul beyond anything I could have understood, until I left.
When I attended university, Mun tuition was higher than it is now and I headed to Nova Scotia to obtain my degree. I ended up continuing my education in Ontario, dragging my Mainlander boyfriend wherever we could both attend school and work. I was blinded by the misconceptions I had heard growing up about my hometown, an over exaggerated vision of fisherman wandering around on pogy waiting on the shores for fish to roll in.
We returned home when my boyfriend was accepted for a Masters program at Mun. We both worked and went to school and started kicking down student loans. I showed him the lays of the land and suddenly I came to realize, this wonderful place may be a part of my future.
My boyfriend, now husband, found himself out of a job after the layoffs in 2010 and we found ourselves on the Mainland again, now with a baby in belly, we had to move for the betterment of our family.
Was I prepared for the grieving and upset I would face when I gave birth off the island? Did I realize how much I would miss our culture and community once I was away? I was very ill prepared. Sure I thought I would miss the taste of salt beef and the smell of fresh air, but I was not prepared for the crushing impact it would have on my soul.
One day, my husband came home from work to an exhausted and crumbling wife, with a crying baby, who looked up at him and said “I need to be in Newfoundland.”
“Let’s get you home,” he said.
I was willing to work wherever I had to work. I had just gotten an offer for a paper in a small community in Ontario, which I was excited about and my husband had just started his career but I didn’t care. I had to be home and luckily, my husband got a job in his field and we moved to St. John’s.
I needed Newfoundland in all its glory to survive. I needed the flashes of Signal Hill as I drove to work, the sound of skidoos in my yard, the boats rolling in, the loud horns coming from the dock. I needed caplin on the fire, the sound of my language on every street corner and bumping into people I know and love while I am running errands. It’s what I knew, it’s what I needed and it’s unique to our island.
I settled down when I got home. I bought a house and I met people within my neighborhood. I made sure my daughter was exposed to my traditions and way of speaking and I fell back in love with the place I call home. For the first time in my entire life, Newfoundland had a future for me and my family.
The statement, “There is no place like home” is actually a vital motto for Newfoundlanders. We have to be here. We want to be here. We embrace the history and hold onto traditions while growing and progressing.
Now we are being pushed out.
As a “socialist,” a “liberal” and “activist” (and I use those terms lightly), I have never had an issue paying taxes. I actually think we should work together as a community of human beings to make a better environment for everyone as a whole. In fact, I was prepared mentally for a massive hit with the new budget. I knew things would be changing and we would have to work together to keep this province in an economically stable frame.
I always believed the people of Newfoundland and Labrador were examples of well knit communities that worked together to ensure that everyone reached the best of their potential and everyone had their needs met on some level.
This budget is not only restricting us financially, but it is taking a giant dump on our sense of community. It’s pushing people out of this province who provide great skills and experience that we need. It’s separating us as a unit to become lowly individuals who have to remain focused on our immediate family, because we can’t afford to do anything else. It’s pushing everyone out, getting rid of the artists, musicians, young workers, new students, health care professionals, chefs and every ounce of talent and originality will head to the mainland to raise their family in a financially stable environment.
There is something greatly magical here and truly original. An overwhelmingly, unbearable sense of home mixed with strong traditions and dialect, with doors opened and fires going and slush in the freezer. Everyone’s Nan is down the road and cabins are always being built. I want my kid ice fishing on the weekends, I want her running Quidi Vidi and swimming at Eastport beach. I want her favourite activity to be crib and poker at the age of 10, after roasting marshmallows in the freezing cold summer.
I can’t get that anywhere else and I need all my Newfoundlanders to be a part of that. We all have to be here to keep the history strong, the traditions alive and the original culture stable.
So, if we work together and we are known to help one another out, why are we stealing from the poor to keep the rich rich?
How is robbing the working class and stabilizing the rich, an example of who we are? We know better. We all want to stay here, so we all have to work together. That’s how we do. That’s what us islanders do.
How can we stand by and watch our less fortunate neighbours be trampled to death while the MHAs sit high on their comfy seats with their overbloated pockets and government officials are capping the levy on the rich?
That’s not very Newfoundland of us.
Pfffft. The friendliest people there ever there was. How is pushing people out of their homes, and keeping the rich comfy and safe considered friendly?
Well, this island was built by those who lived off the land. If you force us working folk to pay for your mistakes, we will have to leave and with us come our strong singing voices, our jigging feet and our hands covered in trigger mitts. Our tradition will be gone. Shut down those NL tourism commercials, because the advertisement will not be a fair representation anymore. Say goodbye to moose hunting, cod jigging, salt beef cooking, hard bread breaking and the rest of this island as you knew it because all that will be left of it are a bunch of overpaid officials and MUN administration staff wondering where the hell they can get a solid cup of tea.