All of my life I’ve heard the expression that we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are “punching above our weight.”
In fact, the very same is referenced in this week’s cover story by a woman who has laced up for her share of title fights – metaphorically speaking of course.
It’s innocent enough and comes by naturally. No foul or harm done, but it’s an expression that speaks to a greater affliction we suffer as a people.
Perhaps this is a generational thing, but I believe we islanders are guilty of selling ourselves short. Maybe it’s our ingrained humour or ‘look on the bright-side’ template, but it always seems like we Newfoundlanders are creatures of self-deprecation.
Behind the eight-ball
If we’re struck with success we’ll often here ‘wow! A Newfoundlander did that?’, or, ‘some good for a Newfie isn’t it?!’
I use that somewhat offensive slang with purpose, that our contributions are often skirted or diminished under the guise that ‘A Newfoundlander did it’.
My question, why is that the case? Why are we ‘punching above our weight’?
Is it the ready-made excuse of being put behind the eight-ball of Confederation? Were we not given the fighting start of success that our fellow Canadian compatriots received and continued to receive on any given basis?
Sure, geography is an issue. It’s harder to break into the mainstream or dominate one’s given field when you’re relegated to a gem of a rock blistered by wind, fog and sleet in the Atlantic. But the cream surely does rise.
There’s ferries and boats and planes and dedication and desire can propel farther than just miles and distance. So that to me is a non-starter.
Why then, is there this stigma?
In this issue alone we see our matriarch of comedy honoured for a lifetime of recognition, NATIONALLY, for being one of the very best this great nation has ever had to offer. Marlene Creates, a giant in the visual arts world, is bestowed the prestigious Governor General’s Award. Hell, one of our favourite son’s Rick Mercer was recently honoured with the very same.
Past a punchline
We’ve banked awards and nominations for the arts, philanthropy, sports, business. You name it, a Newfoundlander and Labradorian has done it.
We’re not a hidden gem anymore, and we’re far beyond the point of a punchline or a joke. We’ve arrived, by my estimation. Come From Away has done much more than just introduce worldwide audiences to classic jigs & reels. It has also opened up our island to a global audience of spectators and curious observers.
The verdict? People love us. Our quirks and idiosyncrasies, our culture and charm, wit and humour, our good nature and impossible to replicate uniqueness. All of that is to say that, Newfoundland and Labrador is much more than just a jobber for the rest of Canada.
We’re not the punching bag, we’re not taking a dive in the first round, and it’s high time to cut out the talk of ‘punching above our weight.’
No, Newfoundland continues to duck and weave, roll with the punches, and more often than not lately, land the knockout blow in the dying moments of the fight.
We’re champions. Time to start acting like it.
Dillon Collins, The Herald’s Staff Writer, can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org