"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Too close for comfort

Aaron O’Brien writes of his experience as a Newfoundlanders studying in francophone Quebec in the current edition of the Newfoundland Weekly Separatist:

...In government, English was placed on an equal footing with French. Consequently, many Quebecers feel their ancestors were made second-class citizens in their own land.

This is something I had to deal with whenever the issue of Labrador came up. Like many Newfoundlanders, I knew very little about Labrador — but I quickly realized that I would have to educate myself if I were to counter the arguments put forth by Quebecers covetous of the Big Land.

For many Quebecers, the decision by the British government in 1927 to give Labrador to Newfoundland is an example of their mistreatment. Newfoundlanders, say these Quebecers, historically utilized only the coast of Labrador. They believe the British gave us far more land than we deserved, while Quebec was cheated out of the land it used.

I may have been convinced of the injustice had I not learned why the boundary between Quebec and Labrador was drawn as it is. The entire border, except the southern portion (which is a straight line running east-west), follows the watershed divide: all the water to the east flows to the coast of Labrador; all the water to the west flows into Quebec.

It was argued Newfoundlanders had not only traditionally used the coast of Labrador, but also followed the rivers that empty onto the coast to the “height of land” to trap fur-bearing animals for cash.
Newfoundlanders did no such thing. Labradorians did. A Newfoundlander who admits to knowing very little about Labrador might be forgiven that.

It's not that Newfoundlanders and Quebecers are so different that make so it hard for them, so often, to get along with one another.

It's that they're too much alike.

A pox on both chez eux.

Have Mr. O'Brien, or his Quebec classmates, in their discussions about Labrador, ever once considered the perspective of people in Labrador? At least from this account, the answer, as per usual when dealing with both Newfoundland and Quebec nationalists when it comes to the vexed Labrador question, is a resounding no.

"Second-class citizens in their own land", indeed.


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