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Letter: Discovery Day name change is nonsense

The long and winding road; Water Street as it snakes west to connect with George Street and Beck’s Cove in downtown St. John's.
Water Street in downtown St. John’s. — Telegram file photo

Those who want to change the name of Discovery Day are being illogical. If that holiday ought not to celebrate the discovery of Newfoundland by those who since then have mostly made it what it has become, then we ought to abolish that particular holiday.

If we want it replaced by something called Heritage Day, to further the aims of some in Newfoundland to make our culture more “diverse” than Newfoundlanders need it to be, then we ought to set that holiday on its own particular date, not merely transmogrify an existing holiday celebrating what these people now do not want to celebrate.

That there were Indigenous people in Newfoundland before John Cabot “discovered” it doesn’t mean that he did not indeed “discover” it on behalf of others, any more than the fact that a wallet I might find in the street belonged to someone else would mean that I did not find it. And saying, as The Western Star for Aug. 13 quoted Randy Burt of Stephenville as saying, that “We don’t need a day which marks discovering nothing,” could well be taken by the grammatically literal, or by the maliciously ironic, to mean that indeed there was not all that much here before our ancestors from the British Isles came over and built up so much of it that is here now.

That there were Indigenous people in Newfoundland before John Cabot “discovered” it doesn’t mean that he did not indeed “discover” it on behalf of others, any more than the fact that a wallet I might find in the street belonged to someone else would mean that I did not find it.

If John Cabot hadn’t discovered Newfoundland, it wouldn’t even be called Newfoundland. I suppose that very name will be the next thing they want to change who would like to see us subsumed in the “diversity” of “Atlantic Canada.” (They would like, I think, to have St. John’s become “diverse” in exactly the same way that Halifax is “diverse.” Such people have perhaps no identity other than their own being part of the same kind of diversity and so can have no sort of sympathy with people whose identity is firm.)

Wanting to change the name of Discovery Day is like wanting to change Newfoundland’s coat of arms; it would be a rejection of the royal authority which had the right to grant a coat of arms, which I believe is a right the merely provincial government does not possess. For it seems to me that having a coat of arms means that the bearer thereof is worthy to wield knightly weapons, and I doubt that any in our current provincial government would even, or ever, want to do anything of the sort.

Colin Burke

Port au Port

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