NEWFOUNDLANDERS ARE THE NICEST and most fantastically easy people in the world to get along with. We’re renowned for our easy-going and fun-loving personalities, lovable quirks, and willingness to invite complete strangers into our homes. However, our pride in our home and culture is our one true weakness — and if you get it wrong, you might be facing some crooked and pissed off Newfies.
Once in a while, this comes up. Here’s the thing: we’re not bad people, and we’re not avoiding the subject. We just know more about it than you do (OK, OK, in general). We know the issues surrounding seal populations. We know the history of the seal hunt. It’s not a question of whether we support it or not, but a fact that we’re sick of fighting with you on issues regarding our home when you haven’t taken the time to truly learn about it.
I get it. Halifax is a major city in the Atlantic, possibly the only city you know of in the Atlantic Provinces — but it’s just not in our province, or on our island. It’s still a place that we’d have to board a plane or ferry to get to. You’d do better to ask how far that is from St. John’s. However, I have to warn that this still might be a bit touchy for diehard baymen and those from western Newfoundland.
This is a common faux pas that is really only known within the Atlantic Provinces: PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. When you talk about the Maritimes, you are talking about the first three of those provinces — Newfoundland and Labrador doesn’t fit under that definition. We love to point out when mainlanders fail to acknowledge our province. You might think it’s a small thing, but we won’t miss it, so you’d better not.
Technically, you’re talking about Eastern Canada, I’ll cede that point. However, it’s not uncommon that Western Canadians and Americans rarely give notice to anything east of Montreal (within Canada). We take pride in our spot in the North Atlantic, knowing that we’re as far east as North America gets. We also abhor the idea of being lumped in with the rest of the country — we have our own unique culture and identity, and feel that it deserves appropriate recognition.
Some of us have strong accents, some of us have accents that are hardly distinguishable from other Canadians or Americans. The point is that your accent is dependent on where and how you grew up, and the people you grew up around. You are no more or less a Newfoundlander depending on the strength of your accent. Also, your accent doesn’t really mean anything in relation to your education or position within society. We’re accepting of the fact that our grammar isn’t always on point, and if we can live with it, you can too.
The labrador gets all the glory, though it actually was first bred in Newfoundland. It was given the name to differentiate it from another breed known as the Newfoundland dog. Our namesake dog is a big, slobbery, black bear of a dog. Originally bred as working dogs for fishermen, today they are loved by many, and sometimes act as our mascots.
We’re not an island of hermits that eat fish at every meal and live on potatoes, salt meat, and cabbage. We don’t all tune in to Jigs and Reels on Sunday mornings. Culture on the island is diverse, and we can all appreciate cultural influences from the mainland and abroad. We don’t mind a bit of adventure and exploration when it comes to language, music, and food…I mean, we are a people who enjoy eating cod tongues on a regular basis. Give us some credit.
We’re proud of our history and traditional ways of living, but don’t mistake that for being ignorant of the modern age. We have Wi-Fi, cell reception, and — most of the time — province-wide blackouts are not a problem (except for last winter). We’re not an island of fisherman anymore, and we’ve got plenty of research and exciting things happening at home.
I’m guilty of just talking about the island portion of the province — that’s where I’m from, along with the majority of our population. Labrador is still up there and has its own culture and identity, separate from the rest of the province but with crossover. If Newfoundlanders get pissed off by being forgotten by Canada, Labradorians get it worse.