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Wednesday 1 February 2012

Secret Nation?

It was long overdue but I've finally done it. I watched the 1992 NL film Secret Nation. I know, I know, I should have done it a long time ago but I just recently got my hands on a copy and I was certainly not disappointed. As a film buff and a student of NL history it was a pleasure to see the two blended in a fictional history lesson played out by some now well know NL performers. The themes explored in the film are thick and rich and have been talked about in kitchens around NL since confederation. In case you haven't seen it the basic plot follows a researcher who uncovers an unseemly secret regarding the confederation vote.        

I was raised in a distinctly anti-confederate home. It wasn't that my grandfather had anything against Canada but he was certainly a Newfoundlander first and a Canadian second. And when I say Newfoundland I mean both Newfoundland and Labrador, and so did he. He was raised in Jack Lane's Bay and Hopedale, so he certainly understood and loved the Big Land. I was naturally drawn to NL History while studying at MUN and ended up with an Academic advisor who wrote extensively on NL and Canadian relations. Some of his writings were paralleled in the film including the idea that confederation with Canada was essentially inevitable. The question remains however, could we have made it on our own, without Canada?

Back when The Independent was still a print newspaper and headed up by none other then current MP Ryan Cleary they ran a 6 part series as part of a cost benefit analysis of our relationship with Canada since confederation. Unfortunately the current online version of the paper doesn't have one link that could point you to the entire series so you can use the following links to help you out. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. The Indy seemed to think that overall we could be better off on our own, but is that really the case?

A romanticized version of our past will always see how we could have done better, but there are still certainly those who still feel we can make it on our own. The example of Iceland is often used as a comparison country that became independent after years of being part of another nation. Of course the recent near economic collapse in Iceland just goes to show that with independence comes great responsibility that can certainly be mismanaged. So some might ask is it better to have others manage your affairs, or for you to have the ability to mess it up or be successful on your own?

NL still has many of the holdovers from the time when we were a nation and they will lead some to argue that we could be a small but successful country on the edge of North America. We have a unique culture, language, way of life, history and the potential for a very successful economy. To make matters worse is that our place in Canada is not exactly at the top of the food chain. While we have significant clout based on our population, we certainly aren't an equal partner in this confederation. 7 seats out of 308 does not an equal partner make.

Many folks feel like me and my grandfather, a Newfoundlander first and a Canadian second. And while becoming a country of our own again may not be overly realistic, it certainly is a great topic for conversation over a couple of drinks. My final recommendation is that if you haven't already seen Secret Nation then you certainly should ASAP and then sit around with some friends and see if you can figure out if we'd be better off on our own. Is it time we moved from being a secret nation to an actual one?


  1. How would one get a copy of this film? I have been searching for it for sometime.

  2. Hi there, same question as the one above - how does one get hold of a copy of this film? Any help would be appreciated!

  3. I borrowed a copy but you should be able to get a copy from the NFB or a local library that can borrow from the NFB. Here's a list of Libraries that should be able to get you a copy: Good luck!

  4. The film is available in its entirety through Youtube for all those interested.