My mother tells me her uncle used to make fun of New Brunswickers. He was from Nova Scotia and was a ‘bluenoser’ while New Brunswickers were ‘herring chokers’ (pronounced ‘heron chokers’). I googled this term and sure enough, my great uncle was not alone. There is an entry for herring choker as a term for New Brunswickers here )http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=herring%20choker).
Aside from the fact that herring is actually quite good if you fry it up in butter with some flour, it is a little funny that Nova Scotians would be named after the majestic tall ships and New Brunswickers’ “Herring chokers”.
I read a lot of New Brunswick history. I am fascinated by how we got here. There is no monocausal explanation. It has a lot to do with core economy, out-migration, government, urban/rural development, etc. but this idea of a cultural chip on our shoulder is one that shouldn’t be ignored.
Don Mills kind of raised this – for Atlantic Canada – in his speech at the Economic Summit which became the focus of CBC’s story. I know the reaction to Mills by many New Brunswickers will be negative -“how dare he” kinds of responses but I think we need to think long and hard about his views. He has 30 years of studying the attitudes of Atlantic Canadians through his polling – that alone gives him credibility to speak to the general culture of the region.
I’m an adherent to NB culture. I love the maple syrup, rolling hills, friendliness, etc. I have been recruited out of the province on several occasions by interesting jobs over the past decade but have resisted the move because my family likes it here.
But even as a proud herring choker, I am prepared to have a conversation about the cultural influences that hold back economic progress, risk taking, entrepreneurship, natural resource development, etc. Like so many others at the Summit and across New Brunswick, I want New Brunswick to be a place where our young people have the choice to stay and be a herring choker and that requires an economy creating enough opportunities.