Newfoundland, a distinct society in Canada?

Newfoundland and Labrador historical overview:
• ~1000 AD First Europeans arrived under Viking leader Leif Eriksson
• 1479 John Cabot “discovered” New World, fishing opportunities
• 1610 John Guy founded first English colony “Cupids”
• 16th/ 17th c. European fishermen eventually settled in the area; mostly from
Southwest of England and Southeast of Ireland
• 1907 Dominion status (autonomous polity under British sovereignty)
• 1949 10th province of Canada on March 31st
• 2001 official name: Newfoundland and Labrador

• ~510.000 people on 405.212 km²
• mostly descendants of English and Irish immigrants
• French immigrants settled in the middle of the 19th century
• Chinese, Lebanese and Jewish immigrants arrived in late 19th/ 20th century
• 4 peoples with aboriginal ancestry (Inuit, Innu, Micmac and Metis)
• in general very little immigration  by 1930 ~ 95% were native born
• many live in small communities isolated from others  local knowledge, rituals
• depend on fishing industry

• most homogenous province: 98% speak only English as their mother tongue
• many non-standard linguistic features
• plenty of dialects of English which differ significantly from Canadian English
• French spoken along Port-au-Port peninsula and St. George’s Bay
• other languages: Scots Gaelic, Mi’Kmaq, Innu-Aimun, Labrador Inuktitut
--> no fluent speakers, often only tales, poems etc. still known, loanwords

--> aboriginal peoples assimilated especially quickly

Confederation with Canada:
• 1896 attempt to join Canada failed: most people wanted to stay independent from
• 1934 collapse of government (political instability, economic problems)  revival of the idea of
• 1949 small majority voted for confederation with Canada
• Canada promised improved income, social services
• roads, water & sewer systems, schools, hospitals, electric power lines etc. were built
--> Newfoundland becomes more attractive to tourists
• Community Resettlement Program in 1960s forced many people to relocate

--> local fisheries replaced by Canadian and US fisheries

Should Newfoundland and Labrador be recognized as a distinct society in the constitution of Canada and become more independent?
• distinct society = political term that refers to the uniqueness, distinctiveness of a province; more individual political power
• pro:
o the province used to have Dominion status
o economy did not improve: low average income, high levels of unemployment
o local fishing industry is being destroyed by Canadian and US-American mechanized fishing  major income source is taken away
o preserve small communities, variety of dialects, aboriginal culture and language
o little support for aboriginal people
• contra:
o Canada provides social security and financial support
o improved infrastructure  increase in tourism creates new job opportunities and income sources

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