This article was written by CCM and appeared in the May 10, 2010 edition of the Northern Pen Newspaper:
Negative stereotypes portrayed in the media have influenced the mindset of how some perceive life in Labrador. FINALY! (Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Youth) hosted a five-day cultural exchange entitled Experience Labrador from April 12-17, 2010. The program enabled 21 youth and three FINALY! staff aged 15-35 from all over the island portion of the province travel to Labrador, serving as a unique avenue to experience diverse cultures, traditions, employment opportunities and self-government in Labrador. Five youth from the Northern Peninsula were selected to attend, including myself; CP, St. Anthony; EP, St. Lunaire-Griquet; RM, Flowers Cove and NC, St. Lunaire-Griquet.
Ernie Maclean of the Labrador Heritage Society spoke to the effect some people may preach youth are our future and this is certainly true, but in his view youth are also the present. These words were effective, powerful, and positive. A group icebreaking activity reinforced this comment as participants were asked before the trip to give organizers one fact about themselves. All participants then had to match each person with their fact. Facts included a noteworthy classical guitarist and the founder of Helping Hands for Haiti, yet extended to include long-term plans for one youth to be future Prime Minister and another to blossom as an actress. A diverse group dynamic filled the week with enthusiasm as the people of Labrador presented the many positive initiatives occurring in the region.
To elaborate, the Nunatsiavut Government is focusing on eco-tourism and resource management, language coordinators are using Rosetta Stone software to help preserve the Inuktitut language, elders are sharing their stories, employers are diversifying the economy, communities are coming together to promote heritage and a Friendship Centre exists to offer traditional craft instruction, drum dance performances and to bring communities together. I have travelled 27 countries, both large cities and rural regions; yet experiencing Labrador was enlightening. It proved that success is obtainable with perseverance and the right attitude. As residents of the Northern Peninsula if we reflect on our past way of life, culture, and values we will realize they are not so different from that of Labrador. There are common issues challenging both rural and urban Newfoundland and Labrador; however, as in the past through understanding and community co-operation we can overcome adversity.
“All the negative impressions and stereotypes that we get from the media, limited my desire to visit the interior of Labrador. This experience made me realize that Labrador is not as bad as what we often hear. In fact it is really similar to the small communities in Newfoundland,’ states RM, ‘a well-organized exchange enabled cultural involvements, such as Inuit games, a session on Inuktituk language and meeting a Labrador Huskie dog team. Overall, an incredible week spent with amazing people and a lifetime of memories.”
“I am so glad to have gotten the chance from FINALY! to participate. I had many views of Labrador prior to participating, sadly most were negative’, says NC. ‘Now those negative views are gone because I got to experience just what Labrador has to offer. The people are very passionate about their land and their culture and are doing what they can to preserve both. Nunatsiavut, meaning ‘beautiful land’ perfectively depicts Labrador. I hope FINALY! is able to hosts more exchanges, the benefits are significant and I will do my part to recommend them to other youth.”
“Programs like Experience Labrador help greatly in reducing negative stereotypes that are portrayed in the media through active education and real life experience”, notes CP. An overwhelming group consensus would rate this project a great success for the youth in attendance, FINALY! and the province. A special thank you is extended to the Newfoundland and Labrador Government and their Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy making funding for this project available.
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Loving the Labrador Experience, just like living the island portion of the province –