Thursday, April 9, 2015

Shine On: A response to "Is Nova Scotia the next Detroit?"

Print by Jill and Jack Paper

This is completely unrelated to my usual blog content. Completely unrelated.

A newspaper article, provocatively titled "Is Nova Scotia the next Detroit?" was published last week in The Chronicle Herald. There’s been lots of chatter regarding it in my social media world, we've chatted about it at the dinner table, it’s been on my mind. And since it’s my mantra to try to do/make/write what I feel like, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this one.

First of all, Roberta Hawkes' article was basically empty. If anything, it’s a sign of a failing print industry, not a failing province. A desperate attempt by a mismanaged newspaper to grab reader’s attention. Negative attention is better than none, after all. Ms. Hawkes shared stats on declining population, on unemployment, on increasing debt. As far as the Detroit angle goes, the article did not discuss many of the deeper issues that a city like Detroit is struggling with (note: Detroit is a city, not a province). The article did not delve into issues of race, did not discuss the challenges of a city that was once in an epic boom and has lost its industry. I don’t know much about Detroit, and I’m not going to comment further because I won’t do the city, its issues or its strengths any justice. I’d be prejudiced in my commentary- forming an opinion without anything of substance to back it up. I'd be ignorant.


That sounds an awful lot like that silly Chronicle Herald article.

So let's talk about comparisons. Because let's be honest- you can’t really compare one city or province to another. Each has it’s own unique set of challenges and strengths, it’s own demographics, it’s own culture. For instance, to compare the strengths of the West Coast of Canada to the failings of the East makes zero sense. Everything about the two is different- the climate, the history, the industry, the people that gravitate there, the people that stay.

I don’t have a solution to our challenges. I’m not a politician (although I’m not sure that they have the solution, either). I know that we are in serious need of more people- people to help us pay our taxes so we can look after the older and sick people in our communities. That’s an indisputable no brainer. I know that our health care system needs help and re-structuring- as it does everywhere in Canada. I know we need more jobs, that our economy is struggling… but I’m legitimately not qualified to comment on those subjects, so I won’t.

My husband’s family is from rural Cape Breton, where the culture is mighty, as are the challenges. There just aren’t enough jobs. The resources- health care, education, programming for kids- are unquestionably more limited than in the city. For reasons that we all understand. But let me tell you- for a week every summer, there isn’t a person who grew up in that area that doesn’t beg, borrow or steal to find their way home to be with family. To be with their people. Entire families who have been ‘away’ for years come home. 

The one thing I know for sure is this: I am choosing not to dwell on our issues. Because, quite frankly, most of said issues are not unique to us. The economy is not only struggling in Nova Scotia. An aging population, an overburdened health care system- look across the country. We’re not alone in this.

Complaining does not result in change. Negativity is too easy a bandwagon to jump on- and the results are never productive. Constructive, thoughtful debate is one thing. Tearing each other, and ourselves down, is another.

Sensationalising our challenges does nothing but reinforce a ‘down & out’ mentality.

We are vibrant. We are a hearty and resilient people- hell, we suffer through months and months of some of the most extreme weather on the planet and then we rejoice when the sun comes out. We are known for our kindness, our empathy, our sense of community. We are resourceful, educated, hard working and strong.

Let’s focus on that. Let’s see where that kind of thinking takes us.

Let me shove my optimism in your face, instead of my criticism.

Shine on Nova Scotia.

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