OPINION FEATURE: By Tina Olivero, Publisher, TheOGM.com.
Our distinct Newfoundland dialect comes from the living with the sea, weather, rocks, and of course, the fishery.
The fishery is what gave us our foundation, our roots, and our character. It’s who we are. It’s in our DNA.
The genius of our people, the building of things, the crafts, the food, the literature, the way we speak, our humour, the kindness, all of that character is founded in the fishery.
We are a unique people with a very fortunate way of life.
Newfoundland outports began as an act of defiance against the British rule. People moved to the coves and coasts, which are now more unique than anything I have seen in the world.
We opted for a life of self rule and governance. A way of life that we chose rather than what could have been inflicted on us. We weren’t accepting the status quo back then.
It’s time we rise and defy the status quo once again.
Closing the fishery, three decades ago, meant 31,000 people out of work, overnight. That was the greatest devastation this province had ever experiences. So profound in fact, that we are still not over it. That’s about to happen again with our oil industry if we don’t take the bull by the horns.
Closing down the Cod fishery negatively impacted our culture, economics, way of life and outport prosperity. When you realize that trawlers and overfishing can take our fish and we can’t get in a boat from shore and catch a fish, is simply wrong on so many levels.
As the fishing moratorium was put into place, at the time of our darkest hour, luckily we had oil to transition us to a new way of life.
And transition we did.
On the one hand we had the most devastating blow to ever to hit this province with the fishing moratorium. On the other, we had hope of an offshore oil industry. Those early days were hard for just about everyone.Newfoundland has never developed anything that has ever had as much of a positive impact on the economy as the oil industry. Not the American bases, not the fishery and not Voisey’s Bay. Not even close.
Working together, as smart, resourceful characters, we built an energy industry. Thirty years later, the offshore is by far the most significant economic contributor to this province and offers the most magnificent future that this province could ever hope for.
Right now that energy resource is in jeopardy.
WE HAVE FORGOTTEN TO ASK THE OBVIOUS QUESTIONS
Why don’t we have our own local fishery back?
We can’t go out in a boat and catch a codfish. That is a fiasco. It’s a complete failure. Yet we accept it, to our own detriment.
Why don’t we have control of our oil and utilize it ourselves? The fact that we can’t develop and utilize our own oil is a complete fiasco. It’s a failure. Yet we accept it, to our own demise.
Have we forgotten who we really are?
Over the last 30 years, we have brought the greatest minds in the world together to build the offshore industry. We built oil platforms, which are global-scale oil mega-projects. They are state-of-the-art islands in the sea.
Think about that for a moment. We defied the odds and did it anyway in the harshest water in the world.
That’s who we are!
We currently produce the “CLEANEST” oil known to the oil industry. Light crude oil. And when it comes to environmental sensibilities, we are environmentally advanced, and one of the most environmentally-compliant industries IN THE WORLD.
So much so that it’s gone the other way and stifled our opportunities and our progress. Just like the fishery, we’ve gone way overboard; literally and figuratively.
Our biggest problem is not oil demise or fishery failure.
OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM is the way we allow it to happen. We sit around and hope and wish for things to be better. We put all our power in Ottawa’s hands, political leaders, and a few industry organizations, and then we wonder why we are coming up short.
The answer is a change in mindset: a more persuasive narrative, a coming together with a solid vision for our province. If we spent the same amount of money as we do on tourism ads, changing the narrative on fish and oil, we would stand for our true value, believe in ourselves and our resources, and we’d get on with it.
Cumulatively our collective intelligence has the skills, knowledge, and business experience to make everything that we want to have done, happen.
We must not only speak up, but we must TAKE ACTION NOW!
WE THE PEOPLE will create our fishery, making ourselves a priority and implementing aquaculture solutions just like Norway did. It will take an entirely new way of thinking and new fishing regimes.
WE THE PEOPLE will create our oil industry by being owners in our own resources being majority shareholders in our oil projects, just like they did in Norway.
For Norway, being majority shareholders in their oil plays, meant the rudder of their ship swung positive, and today they are one of the wealthiest country in the world as a result. That could have been us if we had played our cards right. That could have been us, with the right mindset.
We deserve to be wealthy. We deserve to be the “have province.” And our actions and results should directly reflect that. If we aren’t on that path, we aren’t on the path at all.
NOT WORKING TOGETHER is like owning a farm and giving away all of its crops to everyone else, and at supper time, you have nothing to feed your kids. So you settle for a welfare check from the government to get by.
ARE YOU OK WITH THAT? I’m not OK with that. But that’s what we are doing.
We like to believe that Ottawa stops us, laws stop us, organizations stop us. I’m calling BS on all of that.
WE CANNOT BE STOPPED if we truly unite and make the future happen.
WE CANNOT BE STOPPED if we unite and work together for our provincial good.
WE CANNOT BE STOPPED if we refuse to follow old antiquated laws, regulations, and protocol.
We have be creative and find new ways. We have to survey the globe and see what’s working well and adapt it to this province.
If COVID 19 has taught us anything, it is that we must be locally independent, food secure, and with precision, harness the fact that we are resource-rich. Anything less than that is provincial suicide.
Stop letting people tell us what to do, stop fighting against political parties, and let’s get on with it.
We can’t afford to put each other down in business and then splatter it all over the news.
We can’t afford to continually pull each other down in the media for likes and clicks on social online drama and entertainment.
We can’t afford to fight against ourselves.
We can’t afford to pay for CBC to provide us with news that ultimately harms us and then justify it, saying it’s a matter of public record.
Our provincial debt is a matter of public record. Let’s keep our eye on the ball. The ONLY THING we should be talking about is how to create the future we want.
Let’s elevate rather than destroy each other. Let’s build rather than be diverted and sidelined by personal agendas. Let’s take action rather than procrastinate and blame.
Right now, we are at the crossroads.
We can take our innovation, collective intelligence, and endless resources to create a truly energized future, just like Norway did, and turn it into unprecedented wealth.
We could be the most significant exporters of fish in the world through Aquaculture.
We could be the next North Sea with offshore oil.
We can have the most fantastic tourism on the planet.
We can be a hub for tech that supports the world.
We can be innovators solving issues like the COVID Virus.
We can be genuinely sustainable, and indeed a contribution not only to our province but also to the world.
We can take charge and gain authority with our resources rather than sit idle hoping someone else will fix it.
We can focus on the 8 reasons why we can instead of the 1000 why we can’t.
OR we can settle for being victims of circumstance and focusing on the drama on the six o’clock news while we have another drink and bitch and moan about the politicians. All the while accepting we are the have not province and we aren’t ‘good enough’ for the prize.
What’s feels right to you?
We need to think bigger. Think clearer. Think unified. It was only the year 321, that Emperor Constantine of the Roman empire CREATED a seven-day week. He made it up, invented it, implemented it.
Today much of the world has adapted to that structure which ultimately unites us in commerce from Monday to Friday, and a break on Saturday and Sunday, as a way of life. I
n other parts of the world, like the UAE, their weekend break is Friday and Saturday.
We make this stuff up as we go along….people. Just because it’s been that way for as long as we can remember doesn’t make it unchangeable.
We can change our structures of governance, structures of industry and structures of wealth. We make it all up from our thinking, intentions, language and actions. We are not bound by our current systems, we are meant to re-architect them if they don’t work now.
So let’s get to the root of all this. Let’s change our thinking to a world of possibility and abundance. One of wealth and creativity at unprecedented levels. Now that, is a life worth living.
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