L is for Labrador
For the information of those not from Canada, the province of Newfoundland is actually the province of “Newfoundland and Labrador”.
Newfoundland itself is an island. Labrador is attached on its western border to the province of Quebec and is known as “The Big Land” and big is probably an understatement. Labrador is referred to by its familiars as “The Labrador”.
Labrador's area is over twice that of the island of Newfoundland and it has only 6% of the province's population. The aboriginal peoples of Labrador include the Northern Inuit of Nunatsiavut, the Southern Inuit-Métis of Nunatukavut (NunatuKavut), and the Innu. The non-aboriginal population in Labrador did not permanently settle in Labrador until the natural resource developments of the 1940s and 1950s. Before the 1950s, very few non-aboriginal people lived in Labrador year round. The few European immigrants who worked seasonally for foreign merchants and brought their families were known as Settlers.
It has not been without its own troubles. The treatment of its aboriginals has long been a source of shame in Canada and the many relocations of Labrador's tribes has resulted in horrific addiction and suicides of the young when moved away from their traditional hunting grounds to enable the plundering of the rich natural resources and harnessing the water for hydro. Monetary compensation has never been the solution.
A Royal Commission in 2002 determined that there is a certain amount of public pressure from Labradorians to break off from Newfoundland and become a separate province or territory. Some of the Innu nation would have the area become a homeland for them, much as Nunavut is for the Inuit; a 1999 resolution of the Assembly of First Nations claimed Labrador as a homeland for the Innu and demanded recognition in any further constitutional negotiations regarding the region. The northern Inuit self-government region of Nunatsiavut was recently created through agreements with the provincial and federal governments. The Southern Inuit of Nunatukavut (NunatuKavut), who are also seeking self-government, have their land claim before the federal government. The provincial government of Newfoundland refuses to recognize or negotiate with the Inuit of NunatuKavut until their claim has been accepted by the federal government.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay is the principal city. A name that is so beautiful. And, I would think, to some of its inhabitants, sadly ironic.
The Dictionary of Newfoundland English devotes 5 pages to all things Labradorian. Everyone is familiar with the dog, of course, but there are other animals and birds with the prefix too: ducks, porcupines, jumping mouse (!), sable, and white fox to name a few. Labrador tea is a tea made from low lying evergreen shrubs.
A beautiful song, composed many years ago, praises the Women of Labrador. Unfortunately my interwebz connection is appalling this last week so I can't link to a YouTube of it but here are some of the lyrics:
Today's post, brought to you by the letter L, begun here