Public Discourses and the Intellectual Origins of Labrador Nationalism
Within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Labrador has a distinct geographical and cultural identity satisfying many of the conditions of nationhood. In fact, given the ubiquity of nationalist symbolism and discourse in contemporary Labrador, it is easy to overlook how recently the idea of a unified regional public came to be. Its emergence between 1969 and the mid-1970s transformed Labrador society on a scale little short of revolution, chiefly by shifting control over discourse and practical affairs into local hands. Yet this public did not arise suddenly. Rather, it sprang from colonial traditions brought by figures like Wilfred Grenfell, Harry Paddon, and Lester Burry, who supplied not only a model for discourse but also the physical means for communication, through radio and improved transportation networks, while shifting the cultural centre of the region inland and openly advocating for the consolidation of a regional society.
It would take twenty years from Confederation for the idea of a Labrador society to become naturalized, with Labradorian intellectualism sped along by unprecedented demographic, economic, social, and technological changes, primarily associated with resource development. Considering pre-1969 public discourses in Labrador, including indigenous, settler, and outsider perspectives, will help us to contextualize, understand, and ultimately to celebrate the sudden rise in Labradorian intellectual and literary output in the early 1970s—an output which produced the basis for our political and national identity today.
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