July 27, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following statement was issued today by Premier Shawn Graham in observance of New Brunswick Day, Monday, Aug. 3:
Every year, New Brunswick Day is a welcome day off for the people of our province to get together with family and friends, relax, and enjoy themselves.
But this occasion is much, much more than just a summer holiday. It is also a time for each and every one of us to reflect on and celebrate the exceptional progress that we have achieved in our province. And in light of how far our province has come in the 225 years since its foundation, I think we can be truly proud of what we have done and, above all, who we are as a people.
Consider the first New Brunswickers, namely the Aboriginal peoples of this land. The rich culture of the First Nations has had a profound and lasting influence on the province from its beginning, and this can be seen throughout New Brunswick today. Any map of our province tells a tale of the multicultural legacy that exists here, in this place, through the numerous Aboriginal names that have remained in use since time immemorial - Restigouche, Nepisiguit, Siegas, Passamaquoddy, Shippagan, Bouctouche, Shediac, Kennebecasis and Penobsquis, to cite just a few.
Consider also the origin of New Brunswick as a province. In 1784, New Brunswick was established from a portion of Nova Scotia to receive and accommodate about 14,000 Loyalists who had chosen to remain loyal to the Crown and leave the new United States. Almost overnight, as it were, they comprised 90 per cent of the population of the new province, where there were already 2,500 English-speaking inhabitants and 1,500 Acadians. The precise number of Amerindians who peopled the territory is not known, but what is known is that all New Brunswickers owe a debt of gratitude to these First Nation inhabitants who had occupied the land long before any European came to the New World.
The story of our province's birth, then, is one of open-handed people who showed benevolence to others. For the displaced Loyalists, New Brunswick was a place where they could be themselves and belong, and be hopeful about their future. And in all the years since then, this place has represented the same things for generation after generation of New Brunswickers and newcomers, including another displaced people: the Acadians, who returned and, with the passage of time and after much hardship, have taken their rightful place in our society. As with the Loyalists, the Acadians' story demonstrates the truth of the enduring provincial motto, Spem Reduxit - Hope Restored.
Now, at the outset of the 21st century, New Brunswick continues to be a place where all are welcome and where we strive to ensure everyone is welcome to contribute to the social, economic and political life of our province. As a case in point, the Official Languages Act - adopted unanimously in 1969, and rewritten, broadened and adopted unanimously again in 2002 - gives New Brunswick an authentic "social pact" that has no equal anywhere else in Canada.
Indeed, when we speak of the equality of linguistic communities in New Brunswick, we speak the truth. It is simply a fact of life in our province - one that has been achieved by our willingness to be better collectively, as a people, and to be better to one another, individually.
This summer, the eyes of the world will witness proof of this aspect of New Brunswick when the Acadian World Congress is held on the Acadian Peninsula. During this congress, about 50,000 people will come from countries around the globe to the peninsula and visit other parts of the province to be reunited with family members and celebrate their Acadian heritage. It will be a wonderful opportunity for them to see for themselves the multilingual character of our province, and for us to show the world that our home is a place where individuality is respected, accepted and encouraged.
Altogether, these examples serve to illustrate something truly great about New Brunswick: that it is unique. Moreover, they make it clear that the reason for this quality is simply the nature of New Brunswickers - all of us, past and present. We have always been and we remain a people renowned for our optimism, perseverance, and determination to be better. It is these qualities that have built the New Brunswick of today; it is through these same qualities that we will build a self-sufficient province by 2026.