Monthly Archives: May 2003

To our readers

’Renewal means either starting anew without neglecting the past – the sure way to create the present and the future – or a restructuring of what has already been – the renewal of the past so as to ensure its continuation.‘


 Mac-talla editorial, Volume 8, Number 44, May, 2003

SHUNPIKING is a broad metaphor for discovery of Nova Scotia, of Canada as well as of the world. We continue this voyage with the newest Mac-talla – the most extensive Gaelic supplement ever published, and much of it in Gaelic itself.

Why is Shunpiking magazine doing this?

For two simple reasons.

What one historian calls “a silent people” in Nova Scotia, who have faced humiliation and marginalization for the past two centuries, is issuing a dignified appeal for help.

Secondly, people want to know why this community has been so marginalized? What is its struggle and its aims? And what must be done so that history does not repeat itself? What must be done to open the door for progress of the nation and society itself?

Renewal means either starting anew without neglecting the past – the sure way to create the present and the future –or a restructuring of what has already been – the renewal of the past so as to ensure its continuation.

Through the different Mac-tallas we have wanted to provide you with a variety of very definite material concerning the historical origins of the problem, the reality of a people in their own terms, their ancient language and history, their traditions and most importantly – Gaelic today.

This particular edition brings forward new and very definite features:

  • Gaelic Nova Scotia and its place in the international context (see p. 12-20);
  • Self-determination of communities to ensure that they have institutions and organizations which reflect and implement their views;
  • Gaelic orthography (how the language is written/the visual structure of a language);
  • Gaelic humour in anecdotes and modern short stories, as in Joe MacKinnon’s tale of “The Fleas” (p. 32) or Monica Mac-Kinnon’s story “The Deaths” (p. 20);
  • Gaelic in the collective memory of the people (p. 4, 9 and 33);
  • Minority language rights and the case for Gaelic, as for all languages (p. 15);
  • Personal witness; testimonials from Gaelic learners – people with names, with faces, with hopes and aspirations, who are not mere census statistics (p. 6-9); and
  • A profound concern and love for an ancestral language, and an anger against a terrible ‘folklorization’ that threatens to further reduce its culture and existence to a mere remnant of the past (p. 4-5).

In a similar spirit, Shunpiking has developed annual supplements on Afro-Nova Scotian/Black History and Mi’Kmaq/First Nations History, which bring their rich historical and contemporary experience into the mainstream of the society, making it accessible for all those interested.

In my view, democratic rights for Gaelic and other languages have serious significance for renewing the Canadian nation. We must consider the Canadian people to be all people living in Canada. They should all be granted equal rights regardless of their background, rather than the present-day hierarchy of rights based on the chauvinist myth of two “founding nations.”

A final point. In this context, what can we say as to the role and social responsibility of the media? Every day they celebrate “diversity,” with non-stop features reprinted from the U.S. “entertainment“ turnpike.

A senior editor told this writer there was “no space for Gaelic” in his daily newspaper.

The Halifax Daily News recently proclaimed, “The Gaelic language (is) gone in Nova Scotia, and never shall it return.” (“Debunking the Gaelic Myth,” 22 August 2002)

The media and their smugness were noticeable by their absence from last fall’s ten consultation meetings on developing the Gaelic language, and from the Halifax Forum on Language Rights (see p. 15), despite a prominent ad on page 3 of the Halifax Chronicle Herald newspapers just two days before, placed by the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia.

If Shunpiking, with all its limitations, can provide space for Gaelic, for the First Nations and African-Nova Scotia, how can the media monopolies, which have all the resources at their finger tips, justify their actual policy?

What will they say next?

These questions – media, nation building, culture, and democratic rights – are serious.

I strongly feel that the stand against such out-of-date media is decisive.

I hope you find this edition enlightening.

*Tony Seed is editor of Shunpiking magazine, and a member of the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia


Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Journalism & Disinformation

War makes for long hours and dangerous work on the docks


(May 1, 2003) –  SOME DOCKWORKERS on both coasts have been working double shifts, often in back-breaking jobs, due to the war in Iraq.

“We’ve experienced a 60 to 70 per cent increase in our work,” said Leonard Riley, a dockworker in the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1422 in Charleston, South Carolina. “The members in our local have been really stressed out ensuring that all the work gets done. Ever since the conflict started to heat up we’ve been working around the clock. Along with our normal container work, we’ve doubled our output in terms of men working on the docks.”

Labour intensive, dangerous

The military has, among other things, shipped out trucks, helicopters, tanks, humvees, and ammunition from Charleston. Most of this equipment gets driven onto the ships and then requires extensive lashing down with heavy chains to secure for the journey.

“There is a lot of moving cargo on the docks that you constantly need to look out for,” said Riley. “Also, the ships are really noisy and then there’s all those military vehicles that have their motors running constantly while they’re in line to be driven onto the ships.”

Riley went on to explain that not only is the work more labour intensive than containerized cargo, but it is much more dangerous. “With all those motors running there’s a lot of exhaust fumes in the air, so there are huge ventilators that pull the smoke out of the yards, and they make an incredible amount of noise.

“So it’s really tough to stay focused and pay attention to all the moving cargo. We’ve already had a few injuries where people have been hit by the cargo. One was serious-someone who got smashed up in between two moving trucks.

“Folks are wary about the health and safety conditions,” Riley continued. “It boils down to having a job and knowing that there is some risk involved. But it really affects you when your eyes sting because of the smoke, and your nose gets all irritated. You know you’re going to die of something one day, but when you see all the old-timers with cancer, it makes you ask what you’re doing to yourself for money.”

Hot cargo

A few members of a West Coast dockworkers local, ILWU Local 23 in Tacoma, Washington, have objected to moving military cargo for conscientious reasons. Vance Lelli, a member of that local, explains that these workers will be transferred to other work assignments on the docks.

Riley knows a few members in his local who have also objected to the work for religious reasons.

Personally, he says, he has mixed feelings about the war. “I have relatives and people that I don’t want to see go down in a war. But the fact of the matter is that the cargo is going to be moved. Even though I’m against the war, at the same time I don’t want my friends and relatives to not get the equipment they need to stay alive. So I try to detach myself from what I’m shipping.”

St. John, New Brunswick
At their general membership meeting in March, ILA Local 273 in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, passed a “hot cargo” edict for any military cargo destined for the Iraqi war-meaning that the workers refused to load or transport any such cargo.

In February the executive board had passed a resolution condemning a war on Iraq without approval of the United Nations, and many members had participated in some of the peace marches that had taken place in St. John.

“Members had recognized in early March that if Canada did participate in the war, military cargo would be shipped through our port because there is a military training ground in New Brunswick,” said Patrick Riley, secretary-treasurer and representative for the local.

“However, a few days after the local had issued a press release declaring a ‘hot cargo’ edict and promising to request other St. John workers and citizens to adopt the same stance, the Canadian government announced that it would not participate in the war.”


Leave a comment

Filed under No Harbour for War (Halifax), Working Class