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

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let he is who without cultural genocide...

Over at the Federation of Newfoundland Separatists clubhouse, Myles claims:
After losing its sovereignty and eventually becoming a part of Canada in 1949 Newfoundlanders (as they were known at the time) were encouraged, through a federally subsidized educational system, to forget their unique history in favor of the Canadian view of the world.

Nobody stopped to consider that Newfoundland’s history was not Canada’s history.

Nobody cared that Newfoundland’s music was not Canada’s music.


Indeed, in the case of Aboriginal communities, Ottawa tried to kill the Indian in the child, to eradicate any sense of Indian-ness from Canada, but the government of Canada is also guilty of trying to kill the Newfoundlander (and Labradorian) in the child and eradicate any sense of that culture from the Canadian landscape.

After 1949 the schools in Newfoundland and Labrador were encouraged, through political and monetary pressures, to dispense with offering meaningful historical information that might instill a sense of pride in a people being incorporated into a new culture.

Young minds were spoon fed Canadian history and the Canadian experience. The exception to this regime was the occasional dalliance into negative historical lessons. Dalliances intended to shame “Newfoundlanders” by reminding them the dark events in their past, such as the extinction of the native Beothuk, rather than the historically significant contributions they had made to the world before joining Canada.

For decades 500,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, like the the Aboriginal people identified in this week’s apology, have been led to believe that they are of less value than “ordinary Canadians”.
Interesting... if bizarrely inaccurate. (The education system was "federally subsidized"?)

From the Report of the Royal Commission on Labrador, Volume I, pp. 165 et seq., 1974:
[The education system in Labrador] has been a system which has done little, and sometimes alienated Labrador people from their potential.

The secondary school system has done this in part by an almost total disregard for uniqueness of the Labrador situation. The school year is at variance with the pursuits of a basic livelihood i none part of Labrador. School texts have very little to say about Labrador and some have almost no relevance. Indeed, it has been the case that at least some texts used in Labrador were designed for American school children, and have little relevance to Canada, let alone Labrador...

This disregard has carried over into the areas of curriculum and program development. Labrador uses the same curriculum as all other Newfoundland schools in spit of its being unique in geography, climate, location, industrial development, ethnic origin of population and predictable future. The curriculum does an abysmal job of relating either to the way Labrador is or the way Labrador is going to be...

The system is even less relevant to students of coastal Labrador... Skills such as those associated with use and understanding of the environment — komatik building, snow-show construction, survival in the country, and hunting, trapping and fishing techniques — are entirely ignored as being worthy of inclusion in the curriculum. This failure to recognize the importance of such skills and the emphasis on an irrelevant and academic curriculum in essence culminates in a degradation of the normal life style of the residents of the coast. The curriculum continually presents, as models worthy of emulation, things external to the present environment...

... the curriculum must recognize as valuable and encompass the teaching of at least some of the traditional skills of northern people. Local knowledge about the land has spin-offs for biology, geography and history, for example... School texts will have to be selected more carefully in the future so that their relationship to the life styles of Labrador people is much more immediate.


At 11:57 PM, June 13, 2008 , Blogger Houghie said...

While I do not disagree with your argument, it comes across, like so many "pity the injustice that has been done to us" arguments from so many fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that I find it offputting and difficult not to write off as bitter ramblings. The loss of any cultural knowledge is a great loss, but blame cannot be entirely laid at the feet of the school system. We are all to blame for not valuing the knowledge we lose until it is gone. In trying to create a standard curriculum that gives students the opportunity to move into an academic world where they will be on equal footing with their peers, there are things which are left to the community to pass on. At least part of the fault must lie with the parents of those first children who weren't taught those skills and didn't do anything about it. The value of these skills and knowledge has to be instilled in the children by their parents. Otherwise, the kids will just become victims of modern culture the same as children from any village in any country with a connection to the outside world. Hindsight, being what it is, suggests that the skills you lament the loss of should have been accomodated in the school. In today's politically correct society it might even happen, but is it already too late? We can all point out the flaws of the past. Only the visionaries do anything about the future.

You've identified a problem. Now get off your soap box and find a solution. Help identify those text books, or start a group to write some. Lobby for inclusion of this material in the curriculum.

And in case you are wondering, I'm an islander, and a Bayman, and bloody proud of it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home