Back in March, The Globe and Mail published an article titled, How the Maritimes became Canada’s incredible shrinking region. In the article, author John Ibbitson claims that the Maritimes are facing eminent economic collapse if action is not taken immediately, due to the loss of many young workers faced with a lack of opportunities at home. This, apparently, has left us with a population of aging, stuck-in-their-ways fuddy-duddy’s unwilling to accept change. You can read Ibbitson’s article here.
In the same month that Ibbitson’s article was published, Springhill, N.S. mayor Maxwell Snow announced that the town was no longer fiscally able to maintain its township and would be dissolving into the county. For a town as rich in history as Springhill, this was a major blow to most residents of the town and surrounding areas. For those not aware, Springhill was the site of a major coal mining disaster in 1958 where 75 men died and another 99 were trapped for days underground before finally being rescued. The disaster bonded the community tightly, as people came together to support each other in its aftermath.
Also in March, after 115 years in business, The Oxford Journal announced it would be shutting down. The Journal was owned and operated by the same family for over 100 years and was the self-described “Friendly Home Paper of Central and Eastern Cumberland County”. The paper fostered community pride by regularly featuring the accomplishments of local schoolchildren. My name and/or picture appeared a time or two. Its loss will be deeply felt. To say that March was a bad month for small towns in rural Nova Scotia is a major understatement.
For a moment it seemed as though Ibbitson’s prophecy was coming true and that small towns were going to start collapsing all around us. And many of the things that he wrote are certainly true. We do need to make changes in order to ensure the future success of our region. We are struggling; of that we are well aware. But we are far from defeated. And while Ibbitson does make some good points, he doesn’t live here. He’s looking at numbers on a page and saying that we are headed for disaster. And to say that we are a population unwilling to accept change is simply generalizing.
What Ibbitson hasn’t considered is the tenacity of Maritimers. He hasn’t seen the fierce pride in the residents of these communities that I’ve witnessed since I started this blog. Maritimers will never give up. And I know there are so many intelligent, passionate people (of all ages) here who are fighting for the Maritimes and will continue to do so. I’m willing to do my part, are you?
But we cannot live on pride alone. We need to work together to achieve success. So let’s commit to supporting and fostering local businesses. Let’s spend less of our money in the States and more at home. Let’s invest in the education of our youth. Let’s show the rest of Canada and the world that we’re more than quaint fishing villages and Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse. Let’s be innovative. Let’s welcome newcomers. Let’s build a better Maritimes. Because I think we all know, it’s worth saving.
How do you think we can build a better Maritimes?