Engage Nova Scotia survey on provincial identity get mixed reaction

71 per cent of those surveyed said they generally identify with their region of the province first

Nova Scotians are weighing in with mixed reactions about a survey that found more than two-thirds of Nova Scotians identify with their region first — before the province as a whole.

According to data from a telephone survey commissioned by Engage Nova Scotia, of 1,000 Nova Scotians who were polled, 71 per cent said they generally identify with their region of the province first, then the province overall.

Danny Graham, the chief engagement officer for Engage Nova Scotia, said earlier this week he was surprised by the results and wrote that sometimes, cultural traps can hold us back.

But not everyone is surprised by the findings Graham unveiled in his blog on Monday, and not everyone thinks identifying strongly with one part of the province is necessarily a bad thing.

Here are some of the comments heard on CBC Radio's Mainstreet in Halifax.

Andy Parnaby, an associate professor of history at Cape Breton University

Andy Parnaby Andy Parnaby is an associate professor of history at Cape Breton University. (www.cbu.ca)

"There may be a range of issues that justifiably benefit from a One Nova Scotia approach, but then there's probably a whole other range that need to be highly localized," he said.

"I think, just off the top of my head, there's St. Mary's Polish Church in Whitney Pier which burned down a couple of years ago. And the local parishioners collaborated with the university and NSCC, the Tompkins Institute and others, and they've raised that church from the ashes.

"I mean, the steeple on the top was fabricated by community college students. It's an amazing example of local community economic development and civic richness."

Dave Meister, a Mainstreet listener in New Ross

"I, for one, was not shocked with the results. Nova Scotia is rich in culture that varies based on region and has deep historical roots," he said.

"For myself, I live on a sixth generation property that my ancestors settled in the early 1800s, in a community that is celebrating a 200-year anniversary this year. That sort of connection creates a deep and profound cultural identity that I and everyone in my community hold dear.

Meister said Nova Scotians need to "adjust our attitudes around regionalism," as the Ivany report suggested.

"This doesn't mean we abandon our regional cultures or viewpoints, but it does mean we find more unity and common ground," he said.

"Like a tartan that has different colours, overlapping to make something beautiful, Nova Scotians have many different identities defined by region, that when brought together, make a beautiful province."

Pam Mood, mayor of Yarmouth

Pam Mood

Pam Mood is the mayor of Yarmouth. (www.pammoodconsulting.com)

"When a business wants to come in, is it going to be in my town, or in your municipality?" she said.

"We're great at it here because we partner, but it's not like that everywhere. And the bottom line is, any business that comes in, that's great for all of Nova Scotia. Maybe you get the taxes, but certainly the people live in my area. And so for me one of the biggest things is that we need, at a municipal level, we need to just stop the foolishness.

"I don't care if it's an airport, a huge arena, a fire hall, anything, the first question should be: who can I share this with?"

With files from CBC's Mainstreet

This article was originally posted on cbc.ca/news/ on April 13, 2016. Reposted with permission.


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