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Atlantic & East Coast Report

Who is a Newfoundlander to You?

By Myles Higgins
Friday, April 21, 2006

WARNING: Before reading the following article, please be aware that some may find portions of the content very offensive and disturbing.

Just over one year ago I decided to focus my writing on issues of importance in Newfoundland and Labrador. I felt that outside the province many people were under a misconception of who Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans really are, if they even cared at all. I felt the province's issues were being ignored by the rest of the country and that people from this land were being looked down upon like no other in the nation. In short, I had heard enough Newfie jokes and slurs against the people of this place and figured I'd say something about it.

Since that time I've commented on a number of topics. From the Atlantic seal hunt to fishing issues to oil development, federal inaction and even provincial triumphs. Throughout the process, I've received hundreds, perhaps even thousands of comments on my articles. Some of the comments received have been supportive, others have not. No matter which side of an issue the comments come down on, as long as they truly discussed the issue, I read them and when possible responded.

Sometimes, however I receive the kind of response from outside the province that really inspires me to continue the journey I've embarked upon. No, the comments aren't complimentary of my words, nor do they show support for my stance on an issue as one might think. More often than not these comments come from people who serve to strengthen my resolve by proving to me that my efforts are nowhere near complete. They are comments that show very clearly that the old attitudes of dismissal, belittlement and hatred still exit towards people from this province.

My words alone could never prove the point better than the words in those comments themselves. Below is a sample of just a few of the responses to which I refer. I have received these after publishing various articles intended to discuss Newfoundland and Labrador interests or in some cases simply to talk about our provincial history.

Comments:

From various animal rights defenders on the topic of the seal hunt:

"Newfie's are a blight and a curse"

"Asking us to respect Newfoundlanders is like asking us to have respect for the soldiers of the Third Reich."

"Hope you all drown and your bodies preserved with frozen smiles."

"I hope you guys are liking the floods,(after recent rains that washed out roads and houses)? Hope that they will continue… and that you will spend tons of money saving yourselves from the drownings you all deserve. We are not weeping a bit."

"The sooner global warming covers the rock with sea water the sooner we can spend our hard earned money on something besides a helpless cause"

"You people are sick. I hope somebody skins your children alive and eats them in front of you"

On the topic of Ottawa showing support for farmers but not fishermen in the throne speech:

"Farmers do more for the country than fisherman. They feed us, they feed the world."

On using the word "Newfie":

"…you are ignorant if you think being anti-Newfoundlanders is racist."

General comments on various arcticles:

"It completely amazes me how stupid you people are."

"… arrange for a minor B-2 accident involving a low grade atomic weapon… and be done with you sorry ass sons of bitches once and for all…I mean, would anybody actually miss you?"

"…intelligence of the Neanderthals you never evolved from"

"my own children dressed as Newfies for Halloween."

"until you do grow up and better yourselves, the world will treat you exactly like a whiny, petulant, ignorant barbarian should be treated"

"…Oh, sorry - A Newfie LEARNING???? What was I thinking?"

"You're right. This isn't a marriage (referring to Confederation). It's an adoption, we're the parents and the child we brought home turned out to be a crack-baby."

" Let's see Harper follow through on his decentralization by cutting useless Newfies off from the welfare teet you've been sucking on since you joined up."

"…turn on them and beat their asses (referring to Newfoundlanders) just like my four friends from Toronto pulverized (as they put it) the locals from St. John's. The s ooner that happens, as far as I am concerned, the better for everyone."

"You should be shot, all of you, on the spot. Not for killing seals and not for being stupid, just for being."

There you have it. I've heard some people say for years that Newfoundlanders aren't treated like they should be in Canada. In fact, many feel they are treated like second class citizens. There have been times when I, too have heard the slurs, the jokes and the whispers but I never thought much of them. I realized that there are many Canadians who do not look down on Newfoundlanders at all, but as the preceeding comments show, there are still many others who do.

I used to wonder if feelings of being an outsider in Canada were just an example of our own low self esteem in this province. I don't wonder anymore.

Myles Higgins is freelance columnist, who lives with his wife and a terminally lazy Terrier named "Molson" in the beautiful town of Portugal Cove - St. Philips, His website can be found at: Web Talk - Newfoundland and Labrador. Myles can be reached at: letters@canadafreepress.com

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