The Provincial Student Leadership Conference (PSLC) 2014 was held on the Great Northern Peninsula in Flower’s Cove at Canon Richards Memorial Academy from October 23-26th. This is certainly a first for our region, bringing together students from across this province to engage in leadership activities! An incredible opportunity for our youth, especially those of neighbouring schools, as they had reduced travel costs which enabled them to participate in greater numbers. It was no doubt a resounding success!
I must commend the administrators, teachers, staff and students for their belief that a Provincial conference could be held in Flower’s Cove, despite all the challenges they needed to overcome such as lack of accommodations, a small business community to draw upon for sponsorship and a number of other factors. However, these individuals took a pragmatic approach, by first hosting a Regional Leadership Conference in 2011. It was actually one of the first events I attended as a Member of the House of Assembly as it was held shortly after my election in October. After the weekend, I am inspired by the team of local leaders, our exceptional volunteers and our community for putting off an exceptional provincial event, displaying our hospitality and showcasing a special part of the province to our youth as there were more than 300 in attendance.
As one walked around Canon Richards it was clear our strong ties to the fishery, as lighthouses, lobster traps and seal products were on display. A dory was used as a prop for photos to be taken as a souvenir memory of the event. All the classrooms had special names, for the teams of leaders such as turrs, codjiggers and lobster pots. A Newfoundland & Labrador flag was exhibited for students to sign, as well as a provincial map for students to pin their location. A traditional meal of beans, bologna and toutons were served and lots of our traditional Purity products, such as Jam Jams and syrup were proudly promoted and consumed!
I was greatly impressed by the amount of effort placed into the theme, in decorating the school and creating such an inviting atmosphere. There was incredible energy in the gymnasium that evening as the conference officially opened and the students piled in with mascots, glow sticks, horns and waving arms. The talents exhibited by the music group, drama troupe and organizers had clearly put together an opening that would be unforgettable.
Traditional fiddle music, guitars, clapping, feet stomping and music opened up the evening, followed by a list of speakers that were introduced with wit and humour from the drama troupe as they imitated NTV’s Lynn Burry & Toni-Marie, Buddy Wasisname and Snook, first male and female premier of NL, Sir Dr. Wildred Grenfell and Nurse Ivy Durley, Danny Cleary and Kaetlyn Osmond, as well as some local community ladies. It was by far the best introductions I’ve even seen given to a group of speakers. The Minister, School Board Director, Regional Rep and MHA addressed the audience. Before I got a word out at the microphone, the students on stage began to sing me happy birthday. It was a little overwhelming having more than 300 people bring you such greetings. Certainly, made my day feel extra special. Next, the Principal would take to the stage. However, her speech would be interrupted by mascot “Willie the Wildcat” and the Spirit Leaders took over the stage in dance. The Principal even joined in the fun, adding to the energy and fun the students would undertake throughout the weekend.
Mrs. Snicklefritz also made an appearance. Her character may be getting up in age now, but she definitely knows how to gain the attention of a room, get her points across and get lots of belly roars from the crowd. She pulled up eight students who had not been to the Great Northern Peninsula before, a keynote speaker and myself as the birthday boy to the stage. We were given sealskin boots and a Grenfell cloth parka to wear, we had to glutch back raw salt pork and chase it with cod liver oil. I can tell you straight cod liver oil is pretty nasty. Thank God for the sweet Purity syrup that followed! It was great fun. I definitely enjoyed the round-up as all the schools took the stage and presented their cheers. It was a remarkable time and so happy I could be there for the opening as my former high school. Thank you again for the birthday cake! I love my home in rural Newfoundland & Labrador and certainly PSLC 2014 has inspired me! I hope it had the same impression on those who were a part of it.
There were exceptional keynote speakers (Andy Thibodeau, Scott Hammell and Alvin Law), and an ability to learn new skills and meet lots of new people, while connecting with our roots. There were break-out sessions to learn how to play card games such as 120’s, ugly stick making, bake home-style bread, crochet, knit and more. There were Newfoundland Jam sessions to learn about traditional song and dance, motivational and inspirational talks, knowledge share, games, lessons to real life budgeting and various leadership activities. More information is available at http://pslc2014.weebly.com/
I had the opportunity to share my local knowledge and give a tour of the town to teachers visiting the region. We went to Deep Cove Winterhousing Site, the Thrombolites, St. Barnabas “Seal Skin Boot” Church and captured views of Flower’s Island Lighthouse.
Again, this weekend clearly exhibited that we have incredible community leaders stepping up to the plate to make very big things happen in our small communities. My had goes off to all of you! Keep up the great work.
“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom Peter
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA