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Monday, 21 February 2011

The Fogo Island Improvement Committee

In August of 1967 representatives from the communities on Fogo Island sat in a room and discussed the importance of a visit from the Premier regarding establishing a local government committee that would encompass the entire island.  Cameras rolled as frustration emerged regarding the feeling that time was short to do something to ensure the survival of the entire Island.  It's available at the National Film Board and you can watch all 13 minutes of it here.

On March 1 of 2011, a mere 44 years later the new municipal council representing the entire community of Fogo Island will be sworn in. 44 years.

During 2008 and 2009 I traveled to Fogo Island and held meetings with representatives from each of the communities on the Island and after a time it became obvious why 40 years had passed but no single structure had evolved to represent everyone. Without delving too deeply into the discussion around amalgamation, the case of Fogo Island is typical in that the need is obvious but the actions on the part of all parties, Government included, can be lacking. Luckily for the current residents of Fogo Island the recent community leaders have seen the benefits of a solid, cooperative effort and they will reap the rewards.

Amalgamation, regionalization or regional government, they must all be explored if we are to do everything possible to revitalize our rural communities in the face of rising costs and shrinking financial resources. We must keep an open mind, and people like those leaders on Fogo Island can help lead the way. Congratulations on having the perseverance to make a difference.

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