Save Our Rural Economies: Traditional Social Values vs. Generation Me

This past week or so I have been participated in Heritage Festival Events & Activities, worked and taken some time to spend with my family. It was a nice change of pace and am now more focused than ever to continue with my frequent blog updates.

While away I picked up a book called “Generation Me” by Jean M. Twenge, Ph. D, which studies what in means to be a young individual in today’s society.  The book cover states, “youth today are confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than ever before.” My interest peaked to read about her findings, as I too fall under her category of growing up in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.

Youth today certainly have a different mindset and way of thinking. There is now an expectation that we will go to university or college. However, for many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians, youth born during these decades will be the first or second generation of their family to attain this level of education. Previously, it was expected one would simply follow in their family footsteps;  a male would enter the fishery during summer and cut logs for Bowaters (to become Abitibi-Bowater, currently in receivership) in winter, as well as many other duties in between. A woman’s role would be mother, housekeeper, educator, family nurse, cook, seamstress, gardener and more. Although, many people of the past did not receive official degrees or apprenticeships from post-secondary institutions, the amount of knowledge, skill and practical common sense they did acquire certainly is to be recognized.

Today, most youth in rural Newfoundland are not choosing to follow in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents and fellow members of the community. Many youth would love to have the ability to remain and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador if employment opportunities and adequate level of services existed. The current provincial government is making strides and investing in youth, especially through the Youth Retention & Attraction Strategy, although it is not enough.

There are great challenges in our primary rural industries (fishery & forestry), that even today sustain  rural Newfoundland & Labrador, which are constantly in crisis. The Provincial Government must intervene, working with all stakeholders (this includes the general public). Measures can be taken to stabilize the fishery and forestry, with appropriate planning and action. In relation to the fishery, restrictions are too rigid on time regulations imposed on fisherpeople and improper resource management gluts the marketplace providing poor prices and increases the cost of doing business for both processors and harvesters. It is time to remove the hold of the merchant system that has plagued the fishery and stagnated growth of Newfoundland & Labrador for hundreds of years. Government recently announced millions for studying fisheries science. This is good, but I ask government, where are your millions of dollars to invest in a near billion dollar industry that sustains our rural economies? Change is needed now, work with stakeholders and the public to address our issues.

After reading the Northern Pen newspaper today, it is disheartening that a shrimp processing plant is struggling to provide 130 employees acceptable employment. The domino effect means their families, businesses and communities in the region are also affected as shrimp landed off the coast is being trucked off the peninsula. It is difficult for young people to choose Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in the current climate as a place to live and work. Generation Me suggests that youth want to achieve and be rewarded, reap benefits early in life and maybe even hope to be famous. We were nurtured to believe we can accomplish anything, right? Well even in a challenged rural economy on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, I along with others have hope and optimism. As citizens we can and will achieve, no matter what age the birth certificate states!

As a young person living in Rural Newfoundland,  I ask that we stand up and fight for social justice as I see my neighbours and community members see their incomes eroded, some bankrupt and others forced to re-settle. Generation Me is trying to influence society and we can, but let us not forget about traditional social values that are the fabric of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Together we must share our experiences, challenges, ideas and work together to bring forth a strong unified voice to The Powers To Be (TPTB) to ensure we can continue to Live Rural Newfoundland  & Labrador.

Let’s Save Our Rural Economy –


Today, a younger co-worker and I discussed Sociology in Newfoundland & Labrador.


  1. Robert, First of all, may I compliment you on your blog. It is well done and I love the visual quality. I recently visited Nfld &Lab and was discussing the fishing industry with some people involved in the fishery. It seems that survival as a fishermen/women depends on securing the largest boat at tremendous debt and then basically subletting yourself and your boat to a NFLD conglomerate that has all but a total monopoly on fish licences. Now, I would call this a set up for disaster. If my information isn’t accurate, I would appreciate a correction. To stimulate ongoing interest in the fisheries we need to set up micro-industries for those interested and ensure that there is equal distribution and access in every town and inlet throughout Nfld & Lab. And someone has to cut through the BS war between the fishermen and the processors. If a thoughtful approach was applied that depended on each recieving a decent living, we would see a return of the protective cultural values that protects the industry for everyone. This used to be embedded in our fisheries.

    1. Hi Grace,

      Thank you for the compliments. Great comment as well. With respect to the fishery, there is no easy fix as there are so many stakeholders are varying levels. There are the big boat fishermen and those that have lost control of their enterprises due to servicing high debt loads, which has resulted in fiscal imbalance. There are a few powerhouses in the industry that are dominating and forming a monopoly, making it extremely diffcult as you had noted. Agreed, the current set-up of the fishery is a disaster. I agree with your comment of setting-up micro-industries that support equal distribution and access. This improves sustainability of rural communities, creates employment and a standard of living for those who choose the fishery as a career. It can also result in a better quality and more diversified product. We need to actually look at value-added processing in greater detail and make these infrastructure investments. Too much raw material is being trucked to centralized monopolistic plants that are operated by a few processors. This war between fisherman/processors/plant workers and the fisheries union must end. More dialogue needs to be had, with an active government role to see that a decent living can be earned from the fishery and we can protect these cultural values and the industry.

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