Opinion: Are Islanders Free?

  #freedomPEI  - 5 February 2018 - By: Matty Buermans 

#freedomPEI - 5 February 2018 - By: Matty Buermans 


It’s not meant to be click-bait, it’s a legitimate question. Are you free? Do Islanders have real freedom? How would you answer?

If you take a few seconds to think about it, I bet you’ll struggle to come up with a solid answer. And that’s totally fine, because freedom is a subjective and relative term to each individual. Your definition of it will probably be different from mine.


On P.E.I., because we live in the shadow of the United States, we are inundated with their propaganda. We constantly hear that freedom isn’t free, and that the U.S.A. is the best country in the world because they’re free. Naturally, those same patriotic messages have become part of the Canadian mentality. And even though the topic of “freedom” isn’t a popular one--one that’s debated, analysed, or questioned, we’re quick to rely on it to justify our prosperity and national pride.

Lotto 6/49 runs commercials where their tagline is “imagine the freedom”.  So, shit! You mean to tell me that I need $40 million dollars to be free?  Well that’s never gonna happen!


Yet in today's society it seems that people consider having a lot of money the same as having freedom. But as we all know, not everyone is going to become millionaires, or even come close. And even for those who have lots of money, they still deal with lots of problems that money can’t fix.


Regardless of wealth, people will continue to struggle with mental issues, societal problems, discrimination, and fear of being different. Some people have a very negative approach to how much “freedom” we enjoy. A lot of those opinions tend to come from American media, which focus on American issues which are more drastic than Canadian ones. But there are still Islanders who would say that no, they aren’t totally free.

Some Islanders are afraid to freely live life as they want to. Although society has progressed a lot over the last couple decades, people still live in fear of being open about who they are. People resist coming out as gay, or lesbian, or transexual, or bi-sexual or bi-curious, or a slew of other things. Mi’kmaq are unable to prosper in their own culture because of the hardships First Nations have dealt with since Europeans arrive on the continent. Some newcomers are unable to fit-in to Island culture and hence become ostracized. And even some Islanders are pressured into voting a certain a way because some families hold strong to voting for a certain party.


There is still progress to be made to give every, single Islander their freedom.


At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be acceptable for Islanders to say this is a great place to live because we have freedom. For one that’s American patriotism, and it just sounds cultish. And second, we still have Islanders who aren’t able to freely live the life they wish to. Yes, we can say that P.E.I. is free from oppression, but freedom is itself a very subjective term to each person.


Every so often we just need stop and reflect on if we are in fact free, both as a society and individually. Or as Oprah would say, “living your truth.” And honey, if Oprah says you best be living your truth, you best damn-well be living your truth!