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“Atlantic Canadians have a deep attachment to their home communities, notably their rural roots” ~ Pollster Don Mills

WE HEARD A neat story the other day about friends who had been obliged to move from Atlantic Canada to Ottawa several years ago. In their new home, the kids (teenagers) decided to surprise their busy mother with some cooking. Halfway through the exercise they discovered they needed butter and had none—so they did what they considered normal and went next door and asked if they could borrow half a pound of butter.

They were treated with suspicion and turned away.

A small thing on the one hand, but highly significant on the other.

Those elsewhere with the temerity to instruct us how we should live suggest we are trying to preserve an unsustainable way of life—that we should move to where the jobs are in Canada; allow our rural communities to die a natural death, and become efficient city folks.

That’s an economic consideration only that completely ignores the human side.

A genteel way of life would be lost to modernity and the lack of individual respect that increasingly seems to permeate it.

Thousands of grandchildren living in central or western provinces have little meaningful contact with their grandparents. That is a lot of collective pain, and a huge social cost: for grandparents have a great deal to offer in the raising of children.

Thousands of children of displaced Newfoundlanders, for instance, are growing up outside their culture—and, as a consequence, losing it. They have no idea what it is to go “in the country” or to drive a boat up through a tricky rattle or out through a tickle in a heavy swell.

The demographic time bomb and the plight of our rural communities across this region is, surely, the most compelling challenge we face in the first half of this century. What identifies us, and moulds us, is at imminent risk of collapse. 

There has to be a better answer.

We direct your attention to “On the Agenda: Rural Revival,” page 44 in this issue, for a piece written by the venerable Jack MacAndrew on The Georgetown Conference that took place in PEI last October.

Thinking people from all over this region (and a few ex-pats we have spoken with) are rallying to the cause in burgeoning numbers: a movement is growing and a groundswell is discernible.

There is much uncertainty at this point, but one thing is evident already—this will be tackled from within by communities themselves, and by capable people from the private sector…

Not by any government.

~ Linda & Jim Gourlay

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